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Fashionable Localities Rents of Lodgings Suburban Country 
Houses Fashionable Resorts And Occupations Dinner Hours (" ' 
Dinner-table Customs The Grand Tour The Earl of Oxford on ^ , 
the Rising Generation Intrigue Fashion in Pastorals Ladies' 
Bed-chamber Leve'es Oaths in Petticoats Black Boys and 
Monkeys 4 



Gentlemen's Dress Cocked Hats Wigs Price of Hair Canes- 
Muffs Hair Powder Military Costume Clerical Costume 
Medical Costume Ladies' Dress Head-dresses Wig-makers' 
Riot Mouches Masks Paint Fans Hoops Trains Shoes 
Infants' Gear 20 



Rough Music Fleet Marriages Profits of the Fleet Parsons A 
Fleet-street Adventure Advertisements of a Fleet Parson Publi- 
cation of Brides' Dowries Funeral Customs Lying in State 
Searchers An Undertaker's Bill Funerals by Torchlight Rose- 
mary Announcement of the Deceased's Fortune 41 




,f^ i *- PAGE 

Vauxhall Ranelagh Cupar's Gardens, &c. Bellsize Guards of 
Soldiers Jo Marybone Gardens, &c. Amusements of the Lower 
Orders ^Masquerades Cock-fights Boxing Bull-baiting 
Female Prize-fighters Broadsword, Cudgelling, and Singlestick 
Smock Races in Pall Mall Football in the Strand Cricket in 
Covent Garden Bowls Archery Fox-hunting Fasts and 
Festivals Illuminations and Fireworks Bonfires in Fleet-street . 52 



May, Southwark, and Bartholomew Fairs The King's Players in 
Smithfield The Nobility at Bartholomew Fair Playbills 
Ducking-matches Posture-masters Ass-races " Merrie Isling- 
ton". 67 



"Full 'Change" Commercial Resorts The Merchant Princes and 
their Mansions Tradesman Life Signs Obsolete Coins Marks 
One-pound Notes Tradesmen's Tokens Offences connected with 
the Coinage 71 



Running Footmen Jesters Wages of Domestic Servants Footmen 
and their Privileges Public Servants Chairmen The Sedan 
The Shoeblack Link and Torch-bearers Watchmen "Teasing 
the Charlies" Bow-street Runners Thief-takers 77 



Prices of Books "Getting up" of Books Dedications Patrons 

Embellishment of Books Birthday Odes "Eastern Tales" 

Contents of the Magazines Literary Clubs and Coteries The 

Booksellers Thomas Davies Debrett's Anonymous Writing 

Newspaper Literature Parliamentary Reporting The Gentleman's 
Magazine Cave's Enterprise 90 






Specimens of Newspaper Scandal Journalists' Quarrels Quasi Lead- 
ing Articles Advertisements Difficulty of filling up the Papers 
The Bible reprinted in the Leicester Journal News Letters 
Price of Newspapers Prospectus of the Salisbury Postman Re- 
venue of a Newspaper 107 



Anachronisms and Inconsistencies in the Stage Appointments and 
Costume Stage Seats for the Quality Character of the Audience 

- The Footmen's Gallery Hours of Performance Stage Sentinels 
Theatrical Announcements Politics on the Stage And in the 
Boxes The Licensing Act Dramatic Writers Prologues and 
Epilogues 118 



Card-playing Coffee-houses Whist, Put, and All Fours Ombre, 
Crimp, and Quadrille The Arrangements of a Gaming-house 
White's Chocolate House " The Gamester" The South Sea 
Bubble Gambling Speculations Bubble Companies Lotteries 
Lucky and unlucky Numbers The Drawing of the Lottery In- 
surance of Numbers Lottery Frauds 125 



Causes of the Frequency of Duels Dr. Johnson on Duelling A 
Weaver's Duel The " Fields behind Montague House" The Duel 
between the Duke of Hamilton and Lord Mohun Impromptu Duels 143 



The Streets of London Progress of Charles III. of Spain in 1703 from 
Portsmouth The Sussex Roads The Surrey Roads in 1724 De 
Foe on the Roads The Tour of Arthur Young Turnpikes The 
Roads in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, 
Gloucestershire, Monmouthshire, Glamorganshire, Somersetshire, 
Wiltshire, and Hampshire Holes and Ruts" Infernal Highways" 
Accidents by the Way 149 





Stage-coaches Announcements of Coach Proprietors "A Stage- 
coach Journey from London to Exeter" Flying Coaches, Post 
Coaches, and Machines A Night Coach The old Stage-coach 
The Crane-necked Springs Robberies of Stage-coaches "The 
Devizes Chaise," and what befel it" The silent Highway" The 
Gravesend Boatmen Tilt-boats and Wherries Fares by Water 
A Sea Voyage and its Perils 163 



Astrologers Fortune-tellers Almanack Writers Partridge Outdone 
George I. and the Soothsayer Newspaper Prophets Witchcraft 
The Ordeal of Sinking or Swimming Trial by the Church Bible 
Judicial Trials for Witchcraft Lord Mansfield and the Witch 
The Cock-lane Ghost Touching for the King's Evil Quacks and 
Mountebanks Charms and Nostrums Conjurers The Anodyne 
Necklace " The Seventh Son of the Seventh Son" Earthquake 
Prophets 179 



Pugnacity of the Age False Alarms The Militia Volunteers- 
Seamen's Bounties Voluntary Offerings War Taxes An old 
Tax-receipt Abuses in the Army Officers in Swaddling Clothes 
and Lieutenants in the Cradle Kidnappers and Press-gangs 
Seamen's Wages Convoys Reprisal Societies Privateers and 
Letters of Marque French Prisoners 200 



Intensity of Political Feeling Political Coffee-houses Opening of 
Post Letters The Subjects of Excitement Shopkeeper Statesmen 
Political SocietiesDebating Societies and Spouting Clubs 
The Funeral of the Earl of Chatham Parliamentary Elections 
A few Election Squibs Election Scenes Bribery and Corruption . 218 



Highwaymen and Footpads Address from the Corporation of London 
Impunity of Robbers Inefficient Protection of the Metropolis 



Sir John Fielding's Patrol Burnworth and his Gang Robbing 
the Mail Distressed Tradesmen on the Road Fictitious Robberies 
Turpin and King M'Lean Martin, the Mail Robber Thieves' 
Ledgers Dangers of the Streets Daring Burglaries 228 



Pickpockets Smugglers Resurrection Men Coming to Life In- 
visible Thieves Street Tumults King Mob The Mug House 
Riots Riots at Executions And at Elections Corrupt Magis- 
trates " Trading Westminster Justices " Corrupt Juries 
Norman-Latin-English Law Pulling down Dwelling-houses 
Sacheverel and Gordon Riots The Mohawks The Hell Fires 
The Nickars Fresh- Water Pirates The Night Cellar .... 247 



The Gallows everywhere Executions in the Streets The Dissection 
of Criminals Sentence of Death Capital Convictions in 1786-7 
Executions at Tyburn What were Capital Offences The Pro- 
cession to Tyburn The Hurdle and the Cart Mob Fury Hang- 
ings at Execution Dock Burning of Women for Petit Treason 
Blackstone on Humanity and Decency Three Weeks' Hangings 
Public Exhibition of Criminals Mutilation of Criminals : Disem- 
bowelling and Dismemberment " The Four- Want Way" Gibbets 
and Hanging in Chains A Child condemned to the Stake Re- -^, <fl 
fusing to Plead The Peine forte et dure, or Pressing to Death 
Minor Tortures Domestic Bondage Negro Slavery in England ' 
Civil Death 269 



Boring the Tongue, and Branding in the Hand The Pillory Some 
Pillory Scenes Nailing the Ears and Slitting the Nostrils The 
Stocks and Whipping-post Flogging at the Cart's-tail Whipping 
of Women Blackstone's " Humanity and Decency " carried out 
State of the Fleet and Bridewell Prisons The ever-infamous Barn- 
bridge Newgate An Incident before Hertford Gaol The Old 
Mint and the other Sanctuaries Bethlehem and the Treatment of 
Lunatics "Walk up and see the caged Lions" The Cucking- 
Stool Offences become obsolete Ecclesiastical Punishments 
Public Penance "Without Benefit of Clergy!" Degradation of 
Clergymen " Striking in the King's Court" Burning of Books 
by the Common Hangman Overstrained Parliamentary Privileges 288 






Class Coffee-houses Their Visitors Coffee-house Clubs: Political, 
Literary, and Social The Society of Brothers The October Club 
List of Clubs Johnson's Clubs Clubs in Edinburgh The 
Calfs-head Club 306 



The Country Gentleman of the Time of Queen Anne The Country 
Gentleman's Chaplain The Small Squire of the Time of George II. 
The London Citizen of the Time of George II. The Genius of 
the Country House . 314 



Orthography and Form of Speech Abbreviations Matters of Com- 
putation Old Type Vulgar Expressions Delicacy of the Age 
Regal Practices Government Restrictions of Costume The 
Messrs. Squeers of the last Century Cost of Living, &c. End . 326 




IF it were possible for us to retrace but three steps down 
the ladder of time, we should alight into a world which 
we should not recognise as our own as rich in curiosities 
as the buried cities of Italy and of which, in the course 
of another generation, we shall know as little about the do- 
mestic customs as we do about the every-day life of Etruria. 
So rapidly do the manners of a nation change. Time 
leads men into different paths from those in which their 
grandfathers trod ; and the period of a century frequently 
makes the generations which it separates as different peo- 
ple from each other as a rolling ocean or leagues of desert 
country different in their tastes different in their ideas 
different in their employments different in their incli- 
nations, as well as in their dress and customs. 

England in the present century no more resembles Eng- 
land in the last, than the native inhabitants of Australia 
resemble those of Africa ; and the progress which science 
has made, in the invention of gas, and the various appli- 
cations of steam and electricity, have not only altered the 



aspects of our streets and the face of our country, but have 
altered the life, public and private, of ourselves. England 
may almost be said to have been in a transition-state 
during the last century. Arousing, after the revival of 
letters, when the religious bigotry which had held her in 
chains was conquered, and people began to interchange 
and compare ideas through the extension of the press, she 
languidly shook off her fetters and began the work of 
improvement; but her plans were not yet properly ma- 
tured, and her social arrangements appear at times strange 
and eccentric. Out of them our own customs have grown, 
but they are so changed as to preserve little or no likeness 
of the originals. Our criminal code might be the code of 
a different country, for all the resemblance it bears to that 
of 1720 our modes of travelling are as much like those 
which our grandsires pursued, as a locomotive is like a 
packhorse our newspapers, how different from the dimi- 
nutive sheets of the last century ! our trim policeman, 
how little he resembles the aged sentinel who woke our 
grandfathers up every hour in the night, to tell them what 
o'clock it was ! our well-kept roads, how improved upon 
the old roads, abounding in holes and ruts ! our cities, a 
blaze of light at night, seem to throw the subject of street 
appearances a hundred years ago into a deeper darkness. 
Would it, then, be an unprofitable task to inquire into the 
state in which generations, removed from us only by one 
or two, existed, and to preserve some memorials of their 
domestic habits and customs to collect, in illustration of 
the history of public affairs, facts connected with every-day 
life, and to place and arrange them in our Museum ? We 
think not. We may alternately have cause for congratu- 
lation or for regret, as we see the changes which time has 
effected ; if the former, it should make us more contented 


with our condition; if the latter, it will open our eyes to 
the means of improving it. 

Why should we allow this particular century to roll 
away into the ocean of history, without analysing each 
drop of which it was composed? There is yet a chance of 
ascertaining how the people who then existed passed their 
time how they travelled how they dressed what they 
did, said, and thought ; and shall we reject this informa- 
tion, and slight the subject, because it can boast no high 
antiquity ? 

Our Museum will, we think, contain some curious spe- 
cimens, and we will do our best to label and describe 
them putting, as it were, the EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 
carefully away in our cabinet for more able philosophers 
than ourselves to moralise upon. Such sketches as may 
be offered of the men and women of the time will be 
drawn by themselves ; the descriptions of their ways of 
living taken from the books in which they have related 
them genuine, authentic, and contemporary; and no 
assertion will be made but upon the best authority. 

Of such materials, then, our Museum will be composed. 
We throw it open, and invite those who are curious 
about the life their fathers led before them, to come and 
see. It is but patchwork, but it is the panorama of a 
hundred years ago a view no longer obscured by the 
fogs and mists of time, for the leading features may be 
discerned and brought back to the eye. 

We have swept the dust from our specimens come and 
look at them. 




THE follies of fashion have always been considered 
legitimate marks for the satirist and the playwright to 
aim their shafts at, which have frequently done more 
execution among these flimsy trappings of civilisation 
than the heavy artillery discharged against them by the 
philosopher or the divine. Addison, and the other 
essayists, and Fielding, and his Brother novelists, knew 
how to expose the trumpery in the light in which its 
transparency was the most obvious, and yet Fashion, poor 
silly thing ! remained true to its principles, at the sacrifice 
of its reputation; the works of these keen and clever 
observers were no sooner sought after from their intrinsic 
value, than she, poor suicide ! true to her governing rule 
of following in the steps of the wealthy and the most 
shining characters, put her stamp upon the very publica- 
tions which laughed her to scorn ; purchased the ink that 
poisoned the feathered dart with which they pierced her ; 
in fact, signed the bill of indictment which they had 
prepared against her. No publications of their time it 
was more " fashionable" to read and speak of than " The 
Tatler," "The Spectator," and "The Guardian;" yet 
what were the avowed purposes with which they were 
written? "To correct," says the opening address of 


" The Tatler," " the follies, foibles, and fashions of the 

But it is always so. Every sly innuendo to which we 
may be equally open, we consider is levelled at our 
neighbour, and laugh him to scorn, not thinking, or not 
knowing, we are enjoying a good joke upon ourselves. 
And thus the world of fashion cried " Good ! good ! " to 
the very figure which it saw but did not recognise in the 
looking-glass which the essayists and satirists held up 
to it. 

Several of these features of the fashionable world of the 
last century were so prominent as to demand a separate 
chapter to themselves, but we may take a general glance 
at the prevailing tastes and occupations of the " ton," the 
" beau monde," the " quality," the " town," or whatever 
other distinctive appellation it may have gone by. 

In the last century, the fashionable world resided much 
nearer to the smoke of London than would be now consi- 
dered beneficial to the complexions of a generation which 
has grown more sparing of the use of paint and cosmetics. 
The fashionable world disdained not Holborn, and was 
very aristocratic in Bloom sbury ; Bedford-row, Blooms- 
bury-square, Brunswick-square, Mecklenburg-square, with 
the streets -thereunto appertaining, were its habitations 
early in the century ; then, defying even highwaymen 
and burglars- in its anxiety to escape the threatened 
invasion of the " merchant princes" from their mansions 
in Broad-street, Billiter-square, Goodman's-fields, and 
Bishopsgate, it pushed as far as Hanover-square, Gower- 
street, and Great Coram-street; thence it dispersed, as the 
city carrion trod upon its toes, into Piccadilly and Pall- 
mall. Now it has gone mad, and the impertinence of 
citizens and traders, who attempted to intrude within 
its sacred precincts, has forced it to emigrate to the for- 


merly unheard-of regions of Shepherd's Bush, Notting- 
hill, or Pimlico. 

The rents at the West-end of the town appear to have 
been very moderate in Swift's time ; the expense of the 
journey to and fro was sufficient to exclude the city man 
of business then. Under date " September 21st, 1710," 
the Dean informs Stella that he has taken lodgings in 
Bury-street, u the first floor, a dining-room and bed- 
chamber, at eight shillings a week." This, too, he calls 
" plaguy dear," and thinks " it will be expensive." In 
1733, Alderman Barber (then Lord Mayor) complains to 
him of his chaplain, the Rev. Mr. Pilkington, giving " the 
extravagant sum of thirty pounds a year for lodgings," 
when, if he had lived in the city, he might have got them 
for ten or twelve. (Apropos of rooms and lodgings : the 
art of paper-hanging was, at this time, seldom called into 
use. As late as June 27th, 1752, Fielding, in his 
" Covent Garden Journal," says, " Our printed paper is 
scarcely distinguishable from the finest silk, and there is 
scarcely a modern house which hath not one or more rooms 
lined with this furniture" Previously to this time, the 
better sort of rooms had continued to be hung with ta- 

London was then only winter-quarters, and at the time 
of which we were speaking, when it went out of town 
(which it did in May, and returned in October), the 
fashionable world at first resorted to Islington, " to drink 
the waters," to Hampstead, or to Chelsea. Swift, in his 
" Journal to Stella," repeatedly alludes to a Addison's 
country-house at Chelsea;" and, on taking lodgings there 
himself, talks of the beautiful scent of the new-made hay 
around, and says he gets quite sunburnt in his journeys 
to and fro, and whenever he stays late in London, he 
congratulates himself on having no money, so that he 


cannot be robbed on his way home. That this was no 
burlesque, the following confirmatory extracts will show : 

"Many persons arrived in town from their country- 
houses in Marybone." Daily Journal, October 15, 

" The Right Honourable Sir Robert' Walpole comes to 
town this day from Chelsea." Ibid. 

Among the advertisements of sales in the folio edition 
of the " Spectator," the mansion of Streater, junior, is 
described as " his country-house, being near Bolton-row, 
in Piccadilly." 

But even at this distance, Trade hotly pressed again, 
and Fashion fled in dismay to Tonbridge Wells, Scarbo- 
rough, Broadstairs, or Bath (" the Bath," as it was then 
styled). How it has left these, and sought refuge by 
turns at Dover, Brighton, Worthing, Hastings, Chelten- 
ham, Leamington, Buxton, &c., is within our own memo- 
ries; in despair, a discomfited fragment of it actually 
secreted itself at Ashby-de-la-Zouch, and thence fled to 
Weston-super-Mare, but was, we believe, lost in the de- 
sert, or starved for want of supplies, and devoured by the 
hungry aborigines ; while others, following the example 
of the Queen, place time and distance as barriers against the 
pursuit of Trade, and escape him by getting to the Isle of 
Wight or the Highlands, where the London Tradesman 
cannot get a day-ticket to enable him to intrude upon them. 
Paris, Brussels, even the Rhine, are no longer sacred to 
them; Baden-Baden, Rome, Florence in none are they 
secure. What will be the result of this cruel persecution we 
know not, but may expect the fashionable world will have 
to take refuge in the Arctic Regions, where it will certainly 
be ice-elated enough, and whence it can send its fashions 
in " furs and other novelties of the winter season," by the 
returning whale-ships. 


But, to return to the period when the world of fashion 
lived in Holborn, and .went to Islington and Lambeth 
Wells to drink the waters. We do not often meet with 
it taking a carriage-airing in the Parks, or lounging in 
Kensington Gardens to hear the band ; but its occupations 
were equally insipid. An old writer (Mackay, in his 
"Journey through England"), in 1724, describes its pro- 
ceedings thus : " The street called Pall-mall is the ordi- 
nary residence of all strangers, because of its vicinity to 
the king's palace, the park, the parliament-house, the 
theatres, and the chocolate and coffee-houses, where the 
best corri'pany frequent. We rise by time, and those that 
frequent great men's levees find entertainment at them till 
eleven, 'or, as in Holland, go to tea-tables. About twelve, 
the beau monde assembles in several chocolate and coffee- 
houses, the best of which are the Cocoa Tree and White's 
Chocolate-houses, the St. James's, the Smyrna, and the 
British Coffee-houses ; and all these so near one another, 
that in less than an hour you see the company in them 
all. We are carried to these places in chairs. If it be 
fine weather, we take a turn in the Park till two, and if it 
be dirty, you are entertained at piquet or basset at White's, 
or you may talk politics at the Smyrna or St. James's. 
At two we generally go to dinner, and in the evening to 
the playhouse. After the play, the best company gene- 
rally go to Tom's and Will's Coffee-houses, near adjoin- 
ing, where there is playing at piquet and the best of 
conversation till midnight. Here you will see blue-and- 
. green ribbons and stars sitting familiarly with private 
gentlemen, and talking with the same freedom as if they 
had left their quality and degrees of distance at home ; 
or, if you like rather the company of ladies, there are 
assemblies at most people of quality's houses." 


Besides these resorts, another favourite lounge for 
fashionables of both sexes was the Auction Rooms, at 
which articles of vertu, and nicknackery of all sorts, were 
sold; and among the evening entertainments, Fielding 
enumerates "plays, operas, and oratorios, masquerades 
and ridottos, assemblies, drums, routs, riots, and hurri- 
canes." At the last six of this list, card-playing, and, in 
fact, gambling were carried on to a terrible extent ; and 
the four first, especially masquerades, lent a cloak to in- 
trigue and debauchery, and proved the ruin of many of 
their female devotees. 

Occasionally offensive as Fielding's works undeniably 
are, there is no writer of his time who approaches him for 
a faithful portraiture of men and manners. In " Joseph 
Andrews" he has handed down to us the journal of a man 
of fashion, of a period nearly twenty years later than 
Mackay's account, which we may quote as the picture, 
not the caricature, of a day's existence such as a " gentle- 
man of quality" laboured through in the year of grace 

"In the morning I arose, took my great stick, and 
walked out in my green frock, with my hair in papers, 
and sauntered about till ten. Went to the Auction ; told 
Lady B. she had a dirty face laughed heartily at some- 
thing Captain G. said (I can't remember what, for / did 

not very well hear it) whispered Lord , bowed to 

the Duke of , and was going to bid for a snuff-box, 

but did not, for fear I should have had it. 
" From 2 to 4 dressed myself. 

4 to 6 dined. 

6 to 8 Coffee-house. 

8 to 9 Drury-lane Playhouse. 

10 to 12 Drawing-room." 


This may be presumed to have been the routine in the 
highest grade of the fashionable world ; but our man of 
quality forfeited its esteem, by refusing to fight a duel 
with an officer of whom he knew nothing, and he 
accordingly found himself slighted, " Not-at-homed," cut, 
and finally sent to Coventry by his acquaintance. Fallen 
from his sphere, he was content to join stars of less 
magnitude than his old associates, and now allied himself 
with a lower rank of fashionables the beaux and 
loungers of the Temple, which comprised the several 
classes known as " Bloods," " Bucks," " Macaronies," 
" Biters," and " Pretty Fellows" generally. The favourite 
haunts of these worthies appear to have been in the 
neighbourhood of Covent Garden, where they "made 
love to orange- wenches and damned plays." But, as we 
shall, perhaps, examine this tribe more particularly in 
another place, we may take leave of the portrait which 
Fielding has drawn us of the man of fashion, merely 
adding, that, after duly acquitting himself in that cha- 
racter, as a seducer, gambler, and debauchee of no 
scruples, he became surfeited with the amusements and 
follies of the town, and retired, a reformed and domestic 
man, into obscurity and a quiet country life. 

Fielding, it will be seen, fixes the fashionable hour for 
dinner at four, but Mackay, twenty years previously, has 
it at two o'clock ; and this is confirmed by Swift, who, 
we find, in his "Journal," often speaks of dining at the 
nobility's houses, and getting home at five, six, and seven ; 
and, in one place, mentions dining at Secretary St, John's 
(Bolingbroke's) at three, and at Mr. Harley's (lord 
treasurer) at four. We may assume, then, that in Queen 
Anne's reign, the " state" dinner-hour was no later than 
four, and often three o'clock. 


In the Weekly Journal of January 4th, 1735, there is 
an order to the Band of Gentlemen Pensioners, in which 
three o'clock is mentioned as " the usual time of his Ma- 
jesty's retiring to go to dinner." 

From two o'clock to four seems to have been the 
general time for dinner : 

" We dine exactly at two, so you will have full time 
to go to Canterbury after your coffee, if that is what you 
choose." Lord Holland to George Selwyn, Kingsgate, 
September 23rd, 1764. 

" I have a nervous headache, and want my dinner. So 
farewell, for it is past four." Earl of March to George 
Selwyn, January p , 1767. 

"We go to-morrow to walk in Richmond Gardens, 
and they are all to dine here at three o'clock, that we may 
be in time." The Same to the Same, about June, 1767. 

The etiquette of the dinner-table is thus partially ex- 
plained in Fielding's " Essay on Conversation:" " When 
dinner is on the table, and the ladies have taken their 
places, the gentlemen are to be introduced into the eating- 
room" &c. 

The dinner of honest old English fare despatched, and 
while the wine was circulating, one gentleman would ask 
another, a Hob and Nob?" The other would politely ac- 
quiesce, and the two gentlemen would then touch their 
glasses together, and invoke health on each other, the 
challenger usually putting the rim of his glass a little be- 
low the rim of his friend's, who, as a matter of compli- 
ment, would make a feint of resisting the honour by 
lowering his own. In the case of a lady being the party 
challenged, the gentleman's glass was always held lowest. 

A favourite promenade before dinner, answering to the 
drive of our modern fashionables in Hyde Park, was the 


Mall in St. James's Park, where second-rate milliners 
resorted to note the fashions which they could not afford 
to procure direct from France. The coffee and chocolate- 
houses, levees, drawing-rooms, and auctions, filled up the 
day ; and the evenings were spent, in the summer, at 
Vauxhall, Ranelagh, or Cupar's Gardens, among fireworks, 
" waterworks" (fountains, cascades, &c.), dancing, singing, 
thin sandwiches and sour wine; or, latterly, at "the little 
theatre in the Haymarket;" and, in winter, at the "play- 
houses" in Drury-lane and Lincoln's Inn-fields. It was 
considered " state" to proceed by water to Vauxhall, as 
there are few who have read and (which is almost the 
same) admired Addison's masterly conception of " Sir 
Roger de Coverley," can forget. The " Spring Garden" 
there alluded to was afterwards known as Vauxhall; and 
it may be well to note, en passant, that in those days 
" Burton ale and a slice of hung beef" seem to have been 
among the favourite viands and drinks provided for the 

Until nearly the whole of Europe became embroiled in 
one general war, and the Continent was closed, more 
particularly to Englishmen, it had been customary for all 
young men of birth and rank to conclude their education 
by making what was called " the grand tour." It was far 
more of a system than at present ; in defiance of the 
obstacles in the way of travelling at that time, in defiance 
of its perils, without regard to its tediousness or cost, the 
grand tour must be made, or the education was not com- 
pleted, and the young man lost caste accordingly. On 
leaving college he was dismissed to the Continent, where 
he rambled, gambled, and idled for three years, under the 
charge of some clergyman without a living, who was his 


companion and tutor ; winding up his tour with a stay at 
Paris, whence it was, generally, that his worthy father 
received cargoes of bills and acceptances for payment, 
drawn to meet losses at cards, and other extravagances of 
the debauched life into which he had plunged ; for as the 
tutor of the minor often expected to become the chaplain 
of the peer or baronet, when his estate should come to 
him, he seldom ventured to check the young heir in his 
wild career; and the brightest prospects were blighted, 
the finest estates mortgaged, the most robust constitutions 
impaired, the most promising intellects clouded, and the 
worst vices contracted, in this grand tour. We may 
readily conceive that the tutor sent home favourable 
reports of the progress of his proteg^ who was supposed 
to be acquiring the polished manners of the Continent, or 
the information and knowledge which were to fit him 
for the character of an accomplished gentleman, whilst, 
perhaps, he was becoming an inveterate roue, dividing his 
time between the gaming-table, the theatres, and the 
ballet-girls ; instead of measuring the heights of moun- 
tains, sketching alpine scenery, poring over the contents 
of museums, and making notes of natural phenomena, 
great works of art, relics of antiquity, or local customs. 
Notes he certainly made and issued, but they were of a 
kind that often opened the eyes of a parent, who was 
not very well inclined to honour them. In all these 
shifts for money, the tutor was ever ready to form schemes 
and pretences for raising the necessary cash, or concealing 
the way in which it was spent, till his charge returned to 
take possession of the family property, an irreclaimable 
spendthrift, an inveterate gambler, and a consummate 
scoundrel; while the tutor, in the guise of a chaplain, 


became a pensioner on his bounty, an attendant at his 
board, and a participator in every excess and intem- 
perance of his "gay" patron and his dissolute associates. 
There were, of course, honourable exceptions, and many 
came home with that polish and refinement which travel 
is calculated to give; but to the thoughtless, the weak- 
minded, and weak-principled, the grand tour was a dan- 
gerous ordeal, especially at a time when the prevailing 
qualities of young men of fashion were such as the Earl of 
Oxford describes in his letter to Swift, dated August 8th, 
!734:__He" (the young Duke of Portland) "is free 
from the prevailing qualifications of the present set of 
young people of quality, such as gaming, sharping, pilfer- 
ing, lying, &c." 

/ Amorous intrigue was one of the reigning vices of the 
last century. It was carried on more openly than in more 
recent times, and was thought even necessary, to give a 
man the character of a man of the world, as well as a man 
of fashion, that he should have been connected in an il- 
licit manner with some of the reigning toasts and fashion- 
able beauties. The Town and Country Magazine owed 
a great portion of its success to the tete-a-tetes, or histories 
of intrigue, which it published in each month's impres- 
sion, with copper-plate portraits of the hero and heroine, 
so that, by the aid of the initials, every one at all ac- 
quainted with the world of fashion could identify them. 

And yet the ladies of the eighteenth century were an 
innocent, pastoral tribe, all rural simplicity and playful 
archness, looking rather out of place, perhaps, when con- 
trasted with their painted cheeks and pencilled eyebrows, 
but yet all very pretty and delightful in their way. They 
appear to have played, and attempted to blend, two widely 
different characters; sometimes assuming the dress and 


manners of the ladies of pleasure, and then the artlessness 
of rustic hoydens, tending flocks and herds, talking about 
their admiration of rural pastimes, decking their hair with 
wreaths of wild-flowers, which they had culled from the 
fields and hedges, and professing a most romantic love of 
Nature and her works. The portraits of the Honourable 
Miss A., or the young Lady B., represented youthful 
females surrounded by flocks of sheep, and, crooks in 
hand, reclining gracefully against a tree, listening to the 
mournful ditty of some love-sick shepherd; and all the 
young misses, to whom wre inscribed in the magazines 
long odes and acrostics (for acrostics were " fashionable" 
eighty years ago), were Phillises and Chloes, and Phoebes 
and Coelias; and the young gentlemen whom the Muses 
inspired to write the odes were all Damons, Eugenios, 
and Palsemons. This affectation was carried to an extent 
that often afforded some ludicrous contrasts, and you 
might occasionally see one of these artificial shepherdesses, 
painted and embroidered, listening to the advances of an 
amorous swain in the box of a London theatre ! 

These same ladies, too, in the simplicity of their nature, 
would hold perfect levees in their chambers; nay, even in 
bed, under the pretence of being indisposed, and without^ 
any particular regard to the sex of their visitors. 

Visits of condolence on the death of relatives were 
generally received in bed; thus Swift, in his " Journal," 
says, on visiting Lady Betty Butler, on the death of her 
sister, Lady Ashburnham : " The jade was in bed, in form, 
and she did so cant she made me sick." This was too 
monstrous a practice for Addison to tolerate the pure , 
and beautifully simple morality of the " Spectator" re^ L 
volted against it and he thus ridicules one oF~tFes in-[ 
terviews : " The lady, though willing to appear undrest, 


had put on her best looks, and painted herself for our re- 
ception. Her hair appeared in a very nice disorder, as 
the nightgown, which was thrown upon her shoulder, was 
ruffled with great care. * * * It is a very odd sight 
that beautiful creature makes when she is talking politics, 
with her tresses flowing about her shoulders, and examin- 
ing that face in the glass, which does such execution upon 
all the rude standers-by. How prettily does she divide 
her discourse between her women and her visitors ! What 
sprightly transitions does she make, from an opera or a 
sermon to an ivory comb or a pincushion ! How have we 
been pleased to see her interrupted in an account of her tra- 
vels by a message to her footman, and holding her tongue in 
the midst of a moral reflection by applying the tip of it to a 
patch! But more particularly when her male valet-de- 
chambre" (for ladies in high life employed male chamber- 
lains to perform many of the offices of the lady's-maid), 
" in dressing her hair, allowed her beautiful tresses to hang 
in dishevelled but lovely disorder upon her shoulders." 

Hogarth has also happily ridiculed these dressing-room 
levees in his series of " Marriage a la Mode." The gentle- 
man with his hair in papers, surrounded by his professors 
and admirers; the lady, under the operation of the curl- 
ing-tongs, listening to the divine who lounges on the couch 
by her side, while the jfrnez/r, in his inquisitive curiosity, 
is allowing the tongs to singe her hair; the little black 
boy, with his toys, at her feet, "make up" the toilette- 
scene of a fashionable married couple. In the " Rake's 
Progress," Hogarth has again bequeathed to us a graphic 
illustration of these toilette levees. Here the man of 
fashion, in his deshabill^ is surrounded by professors the 
dancing-master, the French teacher of the small-sword, 
the English master of quarterstafF, the landscape-gardener, 


anxious to get the rake in his hands, the professor of music 
at the harpsichord, the bravo, the poet, the jockey, and a 
group, of tailors, peruke-makers, milliners, &c. The 
fashionable taste for cock-fighting is illustrated by the 
pictures which hang round the room ; and the rage for 
Italian singers, by the long list of presents sent to Farinelli 
the day after his first performance. 

But these levees were not always mere compliances 
with a fashionable custom ; they were often had recourse 
to to serve political purposes; and the captivating charms 
of a minister's lady at her toilette have won support to 
governments which have lost all other means of gaining 
it. It is said that the second daughter of the Duke of 
Marlborough, known as " the Little Whig," ravished 
many votes from the opposite party by her fascinating airs 
and graces at the toilette levees. Her mother, that terri- 
ble old Sarah, was a model in one respect of a type of 
female aristocracy whose existence we can scarcely be led 
to believe in, but for the testimony of Fielding and his 
brother novelists. Lord Campbell relates (" Lives of the 
Chief Justices") that the Duchess, calling, in 1738, on 
Murray, afterwards Lord Mansfield, to consult him, would 
not leave her name; but his clerk, in describing her, said, 
" I could not make out, sir, who she was, but she swore so 
dreadfully, that she must be a lady of quality" Horace 
Walpole (" Memoirs of the Reign of George HL"), speak- 
ing of the evidence produced in the trial for crim. con. in 
which the Earl of Grosvenor was plaintiff, and the Duke 
of Cumberland defendant (1756), says the correspond- 
ence was then read, " Yet to the lady's honour be it said, 
that, bating a few oaths, which sounded more masculine 
than tender, the advantage in grammar, spelling, and 
style was all in her favour." 



The little black boys and the monkeys, which Hogarth 
so frequently introduces into his pictures, were the pets of 
the ladies of the time, just as poodle-dogs have since be- 
come. In the "Taste in High Life" we have both a 
black boy and a full-dressed monkey; the latter, with an 
eye-glass, bag-wig, solitaire, laced hat, and ruffles, is 
perusing a bill of fare, which promises "pour diner, 
cocks'-combs, ducks'-tongues, rabbits'-ears, fricasee of 
snails, gras d'ceuf beurrd" a satire upon the fashionable 
taste for French and eccentric cookery. The lady of the 
house, grotesquely dressed in stiff brocade, is showing to 
her visitor, a gentleman with a large muff, long queue, and 
feathered hat, one of those specimens which it was then a 
fashionable taste to collect a small cup and saucer of old 
china, which she appears to consider a perfect gem. 

The attitude of the gentleman, even, is a study from 
contemporary manners. Miss Hawkins, in describing 
the personal appearance of Horace Walpole, tells us that 
the mincing air was indispensable to the character of the 
fine gentleman : " He always entered a room in that style 
of affected delicacy which fashion had made almost natural 
chapeau bas between his hands, as if he wished to com- 
press it, or under his arm, knees bent, and feet on tiptoe, 
as if afraid of a wet floor." 

There is scarcely a single work of Hogarth's which does 
not afford us a glimpse of fashionable follies. The unob- 
trusive but ingenious manner in which he makes even the 
most trivial accessories of his pictures tell his moral, or 
slily point his satire, will frequently be serviceable to us in 
investigating the manners and customs of which we are 
collecting specimens; and if we may occasionally be 
thought too severe upon the century in bringing forward 


what was ludicrous or vicious in its composition, we more 
than atone for it in merely repeating the names of those 
who help us, by the vivid efforts of their pens and pencils 
which they have left behind them, to illustrate its pecu- 
liarities ; for who can feel disrespect for the period, when 
he is thus casually reminded that such men as Hogarth, 
and the satirists and authors whom we take for our autho- 
rities, belonged to it? 





IN the particulars of costume we have often thought 
that our grandfathers displayed more taste than we have 
been able to infuse into many of our modern fashions. 
There was something grand, commanding, even dignified, 
in the broad and embroidered coat, the long waistcoat, 
the full wig; the mere cock of the hat could be made to 
convey a dozen different impressions to the beholder ; the 
lace ruffles were, perhaps, dandified and effeminate, but 
there was something rich even in them. 

We have now lying before us an old magazine, in which 
there is a portrait of a great somebody of the time, appa- 
rently a conspicuous member of the haul ton, and as he was, 
no doubt, an exquisite of the first water, and followed the 
prevailing fashions to the very letter, the picture may be 
considered in a wider sense as the portrait of the English 
gentleman of the eighteenth century. Mark the studied 
precision of his dress mark the stiff bearing of every 
limb, as if each thread had given him notice that it was 
stretched to the utmost, and must crack on the slightest 
provocation. From his toes to the very extremities of his 
hair he is full-dressed according to the notions of the time. 


Under his arm is the cocked hat which was intended to be 
worn, but which he cannot venture to put on lest it dis- 
turb the gravity of his wig; his head is covered with 
white powder, and his face with " rouge et blanc ;" his 
cravat, " white as the driven snow" (the black stock was 
become obsolete by this time), is formally tied beneath 
his chin, and his tail hangs in solemn state from the back 
of his head; his embroidered coat, with its ample skirts, 
is thrown gracefully aside, to exhibit the gaudy waistcoat 
and its capacious pockets, which, in its turn, reaches just 
low enough to avoid concealing his glittering knee- 
buckles; his red plush inexpressibles, silk stockings, and 
highly polished shoes (which even threaten to eclipse the 
brilliancy of their silver or brilliant buckles) their high 
red heels, which tilt him forward till he describes an acute 
angle with the ground ; the lace ruffles that flutter at his 
wrists; the sword that dangles at his heels, or the stout 
cane that reaches almost to his head, complete his dress, 
and combine in giving to a form of no very exquisite pro- 
portions an air of grandeur and magnificence which the 
sparks of modem times severely lack. 

The general costume of gentlemen in 1760 has been 
thus described: 

"Square-cut coats and long-flapped waistcoats, with 
pockets in them, nearly meeting the stockings, which were 
still drawn up over the knee so high as nearly to conceal 
the breeches; large hanging cuffs to the coat-sleeves, and 
lace ruffles; the skirts of the coat distended with wire or 
buckram, just in the fashion of the ladies' whalebone-ex- 
tended petticoats ; blue or scarlet silk stockings, lace neck- 
cloths, square-toed, short-quartered shoes, with high red 
heels and small buckles; riding-wigs, bag-wigs, nightcap- 
wigs, tie-wigs, and bob-wigs, and small three-cornered hats, 


laced with gold or silver galloon, and sometimes trimmed 
with feathers." 

But perhaps the best idea may be formed from the fol- 
lowing description of St. John, afterwards Lord Boling- 
broke : " He was dressed in the extremity of fashion, 
and wore a light blue velvet coat, with immense cuffs, 
richly embroidered with silver ; amber-coloured stockings ; 
crimson leather shoes, fastened with diamond buckles, and 
a diamond-hilted sword, with a long silken tassel dangling 
from the handle. His cravat was of point-lace, and his 
hands were almost hidden by exaggerated ruffles of the 
same material : his hat was laced with silver, and feathered 
at the edges, and he wore his own brown hair in ringlets 
of some eighteen or twenty inches in length, tied behind 
with a long streaming ribbon" (" red ribbon," says Mr. 
Ainsworth, in his " St. James's," and adds, " a mode 
which he himself had introduced"); "his handkerchief, 
which he carried in his hand, was strongly perfumed, and 
he diffused an odour around him as he walked, as if he 
had just risen from a bath of roses." 

This description must be taken, however, cum grano 
salis, as the reader will remember that Bolingbroke was a 
bit of a dandy. 

A dress of George I. is thus described by Horace Wai- 
pole: "A dark tie-wig, a plain coat, waistcoat and 
breeches of snuff-coloured cloth, with stockings of the 
same colour, and a blue ribbon over all :" and a summer 
visiting-dress of Walpole himself was " A lavender suit, 
the waistcoat embroidered with a little silver, or of white 
silk, worked in the tambour, partridge-silk stockings, and 
gold buckles, ruffles and frill, generally lace." 

Goldsmith, always a showy dresser, had, according to 
the books of Mr. "William Filby, tailor, at the sign of the 



STUME. 23 

Harrow, in Water-lane, a suit described as of " Tyrian 
bloom, satin grain, and garter-blue silk breeches, price 
8Z. 2s. 7d.; a blue velvet suit, 217. 10s. 9d.;" and, some 
time later, "a green, half-trimmed frock and breeches, 
lined with silk ; a queen's-blue dress suit ; a half-dress 
suit of ratteen, lined with satin, a pair of silk stocking- 
breeches, and another pair of a bloom colour." 

So much for the tout ensemble. We may as well, 
perhaps, devote a few words to the separate details of these 
costumes, and more particularly the head-dress. 

The cocked, or three-cornered hat, was generally lined 
with silk, and the flaps looped up, sometimes with gold 
or silver lace, to a button on the crown ; it was capable 
of considerable compression, from the very nature of its 
shape, and was generally crushed under the arm when its 
wearer entered a house. 

The wigs were of the most fickle fashion, sometimes 
fringed with thick curls, sometimes fluttering in ringlets, 
sometimes bristling with short, crisp curls now putting 
forth a long pendulous tail ; then cwr-tailed, with a mere 
sprout hanging down to the collar ; and finally, boasting 
only a large bow of black or brown silk at the back. The 
"campaign-wig" of 1702 was very full, curled, and eigh- 
teen inches in length to the front, with deep locks. Other 
varieties of wigs were known by the names of " the story," 
"the bob," "the Busby," "the scratch," "the bag," 
" the brown George," " the riding- wig," " the nightcap 
wig," "the periwig," "the tie," the queue," &c. "The 
tie" was the wig which we described as having a bow or 
tie affixed to the back of it, but which degenerated into a 
string of silk or plaited hair, called from its similarity to 
that appendage, a " pigtail." These wigs were somewhat 
expensive (and certainly superfluous) articles of dress, as 


may be imagined when we state that, such was the de- 
mand for good natural hair for their manufacture, that the 
price was 3Z. per ounce. 

Now, why gentlemen could not be content with the hair 
which nature gave them, we cannot conceive; the same 
tyrannical fashion which compelled them to part with 
their own locks, and buy and wear other people's, might, 
with equal propriety, have forced them to have their teeth 
drawn, and the deficiency supplied by false ones. 

Goldsmith, more bitter in his satires than Addison, 
deals' a blow at this fashion, in his " Citizen of the 
World :" " To appear wise, nothing is more requisite here 
than for a man to borrow hair from the heads of all his 
neighbours, and clap it, like a bush, on his own. The 
distributors of law and physic stick on such quantities, 
that it is almost impossible, even in idea, to distinguish 
between the head and the hair." 

The cane, to which we have alluded, was not what is 
now-a-days comprehended by the word a mere walking- 
stick, but a stout staff, or wand, reaching almost up to the 
eyes of the wielder, who was stared in the face by a gro- 
tesque and hideous head, which was usually the top it 
would be wrong to use the word handle. It was, in fact, 
the same baton which we may sometimes see carried by 
footmen at the backs of carriages on state occasions, or 
(for the benefit of country readers we will be still more 
explicit) it was of the length and size of the " spud," an 
agricultural weapon which old farmers persist in carrying 
about with them in their war upon weeds, no matter 
whether they walk in the fields or on the road, as a sort 
of emblem of their calling and staff of office, by whose 
authority, and with whose aid, they take up all stray en- 
croachers on the pastures or the wheat. 

The large muffs which were in vogue about the middle 


of the century, must, one would think, have given the 
gentlemen somewhat of an effeminate appearance, and 
were in ludicrous contrast to the warlike sword that was 
girt about their waists. In two of Hogarth's pictures we 
have examples from which to judge of the effect of these 
appendages of winter dress, namely, in " Taste in High 
Life," and in the "Arrest for Debt" scene of the " Rake's 

They appear to have been most in fashion about 
1760-70, and only exceptional at other periods of the 
century. The sporting Earl of March writes thus in 
1766, to George Selwyn, at Paris: "The muff you sent 
me by the Duke of Richmond I like prodigiously; vastly 
better than if it had been of tigre, or of any glaring color 
several are now making after it." And again : " Pray 
bring me two or three bottles of perfume to put amongst 
powder, and some patterns for velvets that are new and 
pretty." Might we not fancy it was a lady's letter, in- 
stead of a young nobleman's ? in after-years the infamous 
" Old Q." of Piccadilly. 

Horace Walpole writes to George Montague in 1764 : 
"I send you a decent smallish muff, that you may put in 
your pocket, and it costs but fourteen shillings." 

But the military appear to have been dressed most gro- 
tesquely, and specimens may be seen in Hogarth's " March, 
to Finchley," " Masquerades at Burlington Gate," and 
" England ;" their emblazoned conical caps appearing more 
like the head-dress of the victims of an auto-da-fe than of 
George II.'s British Grenadiers. 

The consumption of powder by these soldiers was some- 
thing enormous not, gentle reader, gunpowder, but flour, 
with which their hair was dressed. It was calculated that, 
inasmuch as the military force of England and the Colo- 
nies was, including cavalry, infantry, militia, and fencibles, 


250,000, and each man used a pound of flour per week, 
the quantity consumed in this way was 6500 tons per 
annum ; capable of sustaining 50,000 persons on bread, 
and producing 3,059,353 quartern loaves ! 

The costume of the clergy does not seem to have been 
so arbitrary or so staid as it is now ; much, no doubt, to 
the scandal of Parson Adams in his " gown and cassock." 
Here is a dress of Swift's, described by himself in his 
" Journal to Stella :" " My dress was light camlet, faced 
with red velvet, and silver buckles." 

The dress of the medical profession was, according to 
Sir Walter Scott, "a scarlet cloak, wig, sword, and 
cane ;" and physicians are pointed out in Fielding's 
" Journey from this World to the Next," as " gentlemen 
in tie-wigs, carrying amber-headed canes." 

Towards the close of the century we may find the 
fashions of gentlemen's dress gradually verging into what 
we may call modern costume. The flaps of the cocked- 
hat, let down, displayed the low crown ; and the three 
corners rounded off, it became somewhat of the shape of 
the round hat, into which it ultimately melted, if we may 
be allowed the expression ; the crown, however, still con- 
tinuing low and close to the head. In the mean while, when 
the coat was buttoned, the ample skirts became inconve- 
nient, and were gradually shorn, till, about the year 1780, 
a coat nearer to the shape of what was called the " New- 
market cut," or, perhaps, approximating still more closely 
to the Quaker's, made its appearance, and, without any 
violent changes, the dress of 1720 may be traced to have 
almost imperceptibly glided into that of 1800; the va- 
rious trimmings and trappings being abandoned, and the 
showy colours and rich materials giving place to more 
sober and less costly ones. 

We have been induced, perhaps, to be more prolix in 


our details of gentlemen's costume, from a nervous anxiety 
respecting the task which was to follow it to describe 
the fashions in ladies' dress, which prevailed at the same 
time. So fickle, so extravagant, so eccentric (to use the 
mildest terms) as were the varieties of female costume, 
what pen shall describe them? 

And then how to give each article its proper designa- 
tion ! Ye gods, assist us. Our prayer is heard, for we have 
laid our hands upon a ready- written description of the 
Princess Mary's dress; but we confess it is worse than 
Greek to us. 

" There was one blue tabby, embroidered with silver ; 
four sacks, all trimmed, one in silver tissue, faced and 
doubled before with pink-coloured satin, and trimmed 
with a silver point d'Espagne. The stiff-bodied gown she 
was to be married in had an embroidery upon white, with 
gold and colours, very rich, and a stuff on a gold ground, 
prodigiously fine, with flowers shaded up to the middle of 
the breadths, like painting, and a kind of blue and em- 
bossed work of blue and silver towards the edges. They 
said that, before the stuff was woven, the gold itself 
weighed eighteen pounds. There were four more fine 
gowns, four fine-laced Brussels heads, and two extremely 
fine point ones, with ruffles and tippets, six French caps 
and ruffles," &c. 

One of the dresses of Queen Caroline (the consort of 
George II.) was, we are told, " a robe of purple velvet 
made low in front, the upper part of the stomacher and 
the short loose sleeves edged with stiffened point-lace, the 
hair divided in the centre, raised in high and ample curls 
above the head, looped behind by a string of magnificent 
pearls, and descending in clustering ringlets down her 
back." This is certainly more reasonable. Another dress 
of this period was " a blue and gold atlas gown, with a 


wrought petticoat edged with, gold, shoes laced with 
silver, lace cap and lappets." But the style immediately 
preceding this was " a flaming petticoat of scarlet cloth, 
under a short gown of yellow brocade, worked with gold 
an immense stomacher worked with gold." 

Let us see if we can transfer the portrait which lies on 
our table to paper, and copy, with pen and ink, the 
sketch so elaborately drawn by the artist's pencil. It is a 
full length of "Margaret Caroline Rudd," says the in- 
scription at the bottom of the print, " who was tried and 
acquitted at the Old Bailey on a charge of forgery." Is it 
possible ? Has that fair form been confined in a dreary 
cell ? Have those white arms been rudely grasped by the 
constable and gaoler ? Has that pleasing countenance 
formed the grand centre of attraction to the eyes of a 
crowded court ? " Ay," replies stern Truth, " and those 
taper fingers, perhaps, did a deed which might have en- 
circled that slender neck with the hangman's rope, if the 
jury had not, at the earnest recommendation of the judge, 
leaned to the side of mercy !" 

The head-dress of this captivating captive it is almost 
beyond the power of modern pen to essay a description of. 
An immense pyramid of hair, rising in smooth and 
unruffled stateliness perpendicularly from her head, is 
surmounted by an elegant turban : her cheeks have the 
usual complement of paint, and her eyebrows are neither 
more nor less pencilled than those belonging to the gene- 
rality of ladies of her time : when we at length find an 
article of dress (which we had almost despaired of seeing), 
it is an elegantly-laced stomacher : the robing of the 
gown, open in front to display the richness of the petti- 
coat beneath it, and the single flounce that encircles it, 
are not dissimilar from those of recent times, but the long 
lace ruffles, elaborately fringed, worked, and ornamented,. 


which are pendulous from the elbows, may almost be 
heard fluttering in the breath of agitation that pervades 
the court. This, then, is a specimen from the year 1771 ; 
let us now glance at a portrait of a somewhat earlier 

Ho, ho ! what buxom lady is this ? or is it only the 
bust of a female placed upon the top of a sugar hogshead? 
Nay, now we have it it is the hoop of which we have 
heard so often that distends that costly petticoat till at 
last it appears like a Mongolfier balloon of respectable 
dimensions. We remember reading a humorous letter in 
an old magazine, in which a husband complains that he 
had lately married a lady of apparently comely propor- 
tions, who, in her deshabille, became a dwarf of scarcely 
four feet in height. And how, think you, gentle reader, 
did this deception arise ? Her head-dress measured some 
eighteen inches, and the heels of her shoes elevated her 
to the extent of almost six more, so that, when divested 
of these ornaments, which gave her the appearance of six 
feet of flesh and bone, she became reduced to little more 
than half that height. But her circumference decreased 
to a still more alarming degree on the removal of the 
hoop, and the stately pyramid of silks and satins, which 
had stalked along all day, dwindled down at night to an 
insignificant pigmy of scarcely half the artificial size which 
she had assumed. 

Hey, presto, fly ! the scene is again changed, and here 
we are sitting in a theatre at the early part of the eigh- 
teenth century. But what is to be seen? Each female 
countenance is concealed, not, as afterwards, with paint, 
but by a mask ! Let us begone, since Beauty hides her 

We are now in more civilised times ; it is the year 
1780. But be cautious! Step carefully, or, perchance, 


you may tread upon the train of the lady who is by some 
yards in advance of you, and which is collecting and ele- 
vating the dust, greatly to the discomfort and inconve- 
nience of the succeeding passengers' eyes. 

Well done, prudent and thrifty dame that was a wise 
fashion of thine, the looping-up of those costly trains ; for 
why should the streets of London be swept with silk? 
Now it hangs in graceful drapery around thee, instead of 
dragging in slovenly prodigality at thy heels. 

The various styles of female head-gear, and the dif- 
ferent fashions of dressing the hair, were so numerous, 
and, at the same time, so monstrous, that, while we 
should wish to give a description of them all, we fear it is 
next to impossible. In the reign of Queen Anne, the 
hair was a frizzled, crisped, and tortured into wreaths 
and borders, and underpropped with forks, wires," &c., 
and the gigantic head-dresses appear to have been for a 
time abandoned. "There is not so variable a thing in 
nature," says the " Spectator," a as a lady's head-dress. 
Within my own memory I have known it rise and fall 
above thirty degrees. About ten years ago it shot up to 
a very great height, insomuch that the female part of our 
species were much taller than the men. The women 
were of such enormous stature that we appeared as grass- 
hoppers before them. At present, the whole sex is in a 
manner diminished and sunk into a race of beauties that 
seems almost another species. I remember several ladies 
who were once very near seven feet high, that at present 
want some inches of five. How they came to be thus 
curtailed I cannot learn. Whether the whole sex be 
at present under any penance which we know nothing of, 
or whether they have cast their head-dresses in order to 
surprise us with something of that kind which shall be 
entirely new ; or whether some of the tallest of the sex, 


being too cunning for the rest, have contrived the method 
to make themselves sizeable, is still a secret, though I find 
most are of opinion they are, at present, like trees, new 
lopped and primed, that will certainly sprout up and flou- 
rish with greater heads than before." 

The " Spectator" was not wrong in his last conjecture; 
but it was some time before these pollard ladies began to 
put forth fresh shoots, which were to rise to a more ridi- 
culous height than had been previously known. During 
the reigns of the first two Georges we meet few of these 
exaggerated heads, but soon after the accession of George 
III. the rage burst out anew. 

In 1732, a kind of gipsy hat seems to have been in 
vogue, jauntily worn on one side, and displaying the 
lappets of a neat cap beneath. In 1770, the out-of-doors 
head-dress was a flat hat, not worn in the ordinary 
manner, but ingeniously attached to the head, so as to 
stand up perpendicularly on its side, with the top of the 
crown and trimmings almost in a line with the face, thus 
exposing the whole of the back and crown of the head, 
which were clothed in a kind of hood. This absurd, 
fashion was rendered necessary by the immense height to 
which the hair was again carried, as the following extract 
from the toilette directions contained in a Pocket-book of 
the period will show : 

" Every lady who wishes to dress her hair with taste 
and elegance, should first purchase an elastic cushion 
exactly fitted to her head. Then, having combed out her 
hair thoroughly, and properly thickened it with powder and 
pomatum, let her turn it over her cushion in the reigning 
model. Let her next divide the sides into divisions for 
curls, and adjust their number and size from the same 
models. If the hair be not of a sufficient length and 
thickness, it will be necessary to procure an addition to it, 


which is always to be had, ready-made, and matched to 
every colour." 

We forbear entering into the disgusting details of the 
opening of one of these heads (which was necessary every 
nine months), and the spectacle of filth that then came 
to light. 

The prevailing taste in all the specimens before us, 
seems to have been to comb the hair upwards from the 
forehead over the pillow, or cushion, and at the top of 
this pyramid was, sometimes nicely poised, a small cap 
sometimes it was gracefully woven at the extreme top 
into bands garlanded with strings of pearls, or surmounted 
with feathers by some confined in a handsome hand- 
kerchief, which was tied beneath the chin by others ar- 
ranged into the form of a helmet, or other devices. 

Mr. Fairholt, in his " Costume in England," gives 
specimens in which the pyramid was surmounted by 
figures of butterflies, caterpillars, coaches and horses, &c., 
in blown glass. This was the vogue about 1780. 

In 1772, the pyramid of hair had a string of curls up 
each side, and a bow at the top ; in 1778, it had risen to 
an immense height, widening as it rose, till it terminated 
in a large out-spread mob-cap ; while from the bottom, 
below the ears, and resting almost upon the shoulders, 
hung a pair of gigantic curls ; in 1 780, it was thrown 
back obliquely over the head, and decorated with light 
crisp curls, or else carried up in a conical shape with a 
bow at the top ; in 1783, the whole of the hair was 
brushed into five or six loose and immense curls, with a 
long tail hanging nearly to the waist; in 1785, it re- 
sembled a modern judge's wig, with a feather branching 
from the top; in 1786, it was spread out over a large 
square cushion, which extended on each side down to die 


ears (so as to leave the face as it were the centre of a 
square), and allowed to hang in four or five tails, of 
which the middle one was the longest, at the back ; in 
1790, it was carried up into one huge bunch, or knot, 
from the back part, high above the head; in fact, the 
fashions were so variable, that we have not yet named even 
a tithe of the different styles. 

A song of the time thus ridiculed these enormities : 

Give Betsy a bushel of horsehair and wool, 

Of paste and pomatum a pound, 
Ten yards of gay ribbon to deck her sweet skull, 

And gauze to encompass it round. 
Her cap flies behind, for a yard at the least, 

And her curls meet just under her chin, 
And those curls are supported, to keep up the jest, 

By a hundred, instead of one pin. 

The use of paste and pomatum here alluded to was ne- 
cessary to give the hair a consistency and strength, to 
make it compact and remain in the form in which it was 

" Still, however," says a magazine article of the day, 
" though nothing supports and nourishes the hair so much 
as powder and pomatum, yet it should be combed out 
by the roots with a small comb twice or three times in a 

The inconvenience of this style of head-dress is fa- 
cetiously described in a letter from a lady, who complains 
of the coaches then in use being so low that she was com- 
pelled to sit almost doubled up, to avoid crushing her hair 
against their roofs. 

In addition to these singular contrivances for arranging 
and dressing their own hair, the ladies, following the ex- 
ample of the other sex, resorted to the disgusting practice 
of wearing wigs ; or, as they were called, " tetes" and 



"heads," which were, about the year 1780 (when they 
were most in vogue), very expensive, often costing thirty 
or forty pounds apiece. These wigs were likewise well 
powdered ; and even the application of this powder would 
seem to have required some taste and judgment, " for," 
says an old writer, " a hairdresser ought to be thoroughly 
versed in physiognomy, and must have a particular regard 
to the complexion and features of those he is employed to 
dress, that he may use powder in a becoming proportion, 
and dress the hair to the dimensions of the face." 

In those days he was a man of some consequence, this 
hairdresser, and many an unfortunate martyr of fashion 
has been detained at home from important business, wait- 
ing in helpless deshabille for the arrival of his perruquier, 
unless his purse or condition rescued him from this thral- 
dom by giving him a valet. Apropos -of wigs, and 
digressing for a moment from the branch of our subject 
at which we have arrived, we must preserve the following 
anecdote: In 1764 a temporary freak of fashion banished 
wigs from the heads of " the quality," and the consequence 
was that the large body of wig-makers in London saw no- 
thing but poverty staring them in the face, to avoid which 
they considered the legislature bound to pass an act 
immediately, rendering it penal for the gentry to wear 
their own hair. A petition praying for the immediate 
introduction of such a law was accordingly drawn up, and, 
after being numerously signed, was carried, on February 
11, 1765, in solemn procession to St. James's to be pre- 
sented to the king. This proceeding was productive of a 
laughable riot, for the mob, perceiving that many mem- 
bers of the procession wore no wigs themselves, seized 
them, and forcibly sheared them of their hair in the 
public street. 


But to return to the ladies. A very prevalent practice 
among the sex in the last century was that of taking 
snuff, and we have been credibly informed that it was no 
unusual sight in a theatre for one-half of its female occu- 
pants to be tapping their snuff-boxes, previously to in- 
dulging in a pinch of their favourite dust between the 
scenes, while the other half were drawing out their paint- 
boxes and laying a fresh coating on their cheeks, when 
perspiration or any other cause had removed the rouge. 

The reader who is conversant with the works of Ho- 
garth (and where is the one who is not ?) cannot fail to 
have noticed the black patches which disfigure the faces 
of his female characters. Never, surely, was such a 
barbarous fashion as that of sticking upon the face of 
beauty an unsightly black patch of court-plaister ! These 
" beauty spots/' or " mouches," as they were called, it was 
sometimes the fashion to wear on the chin at another, 
on the right-hand corner of the mouth at a third time 
on the left cheek ; the precise position either varying 
with the fancies of the period, or being meant to denote 
the politics of the wearers. A correspondent of the 
" Spectator," in satirising ladies' tastes in books, says he 
found in one of their bookcases " Locke on the Human 
Understanding," with a paper of patches in it ; and Gold- 
smith, in his " Citizen of the World," makes his Chinese 
philosopher note this folly in rather severe terms : " They 
like to have the face of various colours, as among the 
Tartars of Coreki, frequently sticking on with spittle little 
black patches on every part of it, except on the top of the 
nose, which I have never seen with a patch. You'll have a 
better idea of their manner of placing these spots when I 
have finished a map of an English face, patched up to the 



fashion,- which shall shortly be sent, to increase your 
curious collection of paintings, medals, and monsters." 

But even this was more excusable than the odious 
practice of wearing masks. 

The embellishments which nature received from paint 
were so considerable, that the " Spectator" says of the 
ladies of 1709, "There are some so exquisitely skilful in 
this way, that, give them but a tolerable pair of eyes to 
set up with, and they will make bosom, lips, cheeks, and 
eyebrows, by their own industry." 

Years afterwards, Lady Coventry, one of " those 
goddesses the Gunnings," is said to have caused her 
fatal illness by laying the 'paint so thickly on her cheeks 
as to check the perspiration. 

A famous instrument of coquetry, with which all ladies 
were equipped, was the fan. Our invaluable authority, 
the " Spectator," found it necessary to attack the airs and 
antics which were displayed in the use of this seemingly 
insignificant toy. " There is scarcely an emotion of the 
mind," he says, " which does not produce a suitable agita- 
tion of the fan, insomuch that, if I only see the fan of a 
disciplined lady, I know very well whether she laughs, 
frowns, or blushes." He then humorously describes an 
academy for instruction in the use of the fan, and a fa- 
cetious correspondent professes to have undertaken the duty 
of drilling the ladies, who thus go through their evolu- 
tions : " The ladies who carry fans under me are drawn 
up twice a day in my great hall, where they are instructed 
in the use of their arms, and exercised by the following 
words of command: ' Handle your fans,' 6 Unfurl your 
fans,' ' Discharge your fans,' ' Ground your fans,' ' Re- 
cover your fans,' ' Flutter your fans.' " The opportunity 
which the grounding of the fans and recovering of the 


fans afforded for the display of a little gallantry on the 
part of the gentlemen, and of coquetry on that of the 
lady, may be imagined, but of the fluttering of the fans 
he says : " There is an infinite variety of motions to be 
made use of in the fluttering of the fan the angry flutter, 
the modest flutter, the timorous flutter, the confused 
flutter, the merry flutter, and the amorous flutter." 
Doubtless there was a great deal of truth in all this, but 
these were harmless follies, and the good-tempered " Spec- 
tator" laughed at them, till the very wielders of this 
formidable weapon themselves laughed with him ; for it 
was no unkindly laugh the " Spectator" could laugh, 
but he never sneered ; his was no growling philosophy, 
no spiteful satire. He was like a fond father chiding a 
favourite child there was love and kindness pervading 
even his corrections. The man who could conceive the 
beautiful character painted under the name of Sir Roger 
de Coverley, could infuse no bitterness into his ridicule, 
no malignity into his satire. 

The farthingale of the seventeenth century was the 
parent of the "hoop" of the eighteenth, which distended 
the dress into most enormous proportions, commencing 
just below the hips. In 1709 it attracted the attention of 
that ever-vigilant sentinel of pure and unaffected taste, the 
" Spectator," whom a correspondent reports : " The petti- 
coats which began to heave and swell before you left us, 
are now blown up into a most enormous concave, and rise 
every day more and more." And, to add to the bulk and 
inflation of the skirts, furbelows and flounces were intro- 
duced, giving to the dress an appearance of being "all 
in curl," and making the wearer look, according to Addi- 
son, " like one of those animals which in the country we 
call a Friesland hen." The hoop appears to have con- 


tinned in favour, with but very little interruption, the 
greater part of the century; but, in 1766, 1770, and 1785, 
they were, according to the specimens of fashions col- 
lected by Malcolm, not in vogue. The " Taste in High 
Life" of Hogarth, painted in 1742, in ridicule of the ex- 
isting fashions, displays two figures, of which it is difficult 
to say which is the most hideous the old lady, wearing a 
dress of stiff brocade, extending at the bottom so as to 
give her the form of a " squat pyramid, with a grotesque 
head at the top of it" (to quote the words of Mr. Truss- 
ler), or the fashionable young lady, whose skirt is hooped 
up, and projects, like a solitary wing, from her side. 

The trains, although far less objectionable, were scarcely 
more fortunate than the hoops they could not escape the 
satire of Goldsmith. In the " Citizen of the World," the 
^w^m-travelling philosopher writes to his friend, " To-day 
.the ladies are lifted on stilts, to-morrow they lower their 
heels and raise their heads; their clothes, at one time, are 
bloated out with whalebone at present, they have laid 
their hoops aside and become as thin as mermaids. All, 
all is in a state of continual fluctuation." * * * " What 
chiefly distinguishes the sex at present is the train. As 
the lady's quality, or fashion, was once determined here 
by the circumference of her hoop, both are now measured 
by the length of her tail. Women with moderate for- 
tunes are contented with tails moderately long; but ladies 
of true taste and distinction set no bounds to their ambi- 
tion in this particular." Of its extravagance, he says, 
" A lady's train is not bought but at some expense, and 
after it has swept the public walks for a few evenings, is 
fit to be worn no longer." And of its inconvenience, he 
declares, "Backward she cannot go; forward she must 
move, but slowly ; and if ever she attempts to turn round, 


it must be in a circle not smaller than that described by 
the wheeling crocodile." He is assured that " some would 
have a tail though they wanted a petticoat; and others, 
without any other pretensions, fancied they became ladies 
from the addition of three superfluous yards of ragged silk. 
To think," he exclaims, " that all this confers importance 
and majesty ! to think that a lady acquires additional re- 
spect from fifteen yards of trailing taffeta !" 

But if little credit can be given to the ladies of the last 
century for the taste displayed in other portions of their 
dress, certainly their shoes were not calculated to redeem 
its character. High upon the instep, and somewhat of 
the shape of gentlemen's modern " Albert slippers," and 
with tall, red, French heels, they assuredly were no adorn- 
ment to the foot, which they only served to conceal, and, 
at the same time, gave to the wearer an unsteady and 
awkward gait. The ladies' boots of modern times are far 
less unsightly than were these shoes, which, from the 
height of the heel, tilted the foot forward upon the ball 
of the foot and toes, to an extent which must have almost 
been painful, and brought the heel nearly in a line with 
the rise of the instep. They must, without doubt, have 
added to the height of the figure, but by no means con- 
tributed to its elegance. 

Comparing the fashions of the gentlemen with those of 
the ladies, we are compelled to give the preference to the 
former. If there were many superfluities, and even much 
foppishness, there was much that was graceful and gave a 
dignity to the appearance; but the costume of the ladies 
was either conceived in such false taste, or carried to such 
ridiculous extremes, that the symmetry of the figure was 
lost, and every movement made to appear awkward, con- 
strained, or painful. 


The same cumbrousness of dress which seems to have 
been considered ornamental to adults, was thought neces- 
sary in the case of infants. There was a belief among 
grandams and nurses, that infants' bones and joints re- 
quired extraordinary external support, and consequently 
ample provisions were made to prevent sprains and disloca- 
tions, by the baby-limbs being put in a sort of framework, 
composed of whalebone, wool, and strings. The chin had 
a pillow for its support, which went by the name of 
" chin stays ;" and from this bandage a strap was passed 
down to the breast, and was called " a gop," serving to 
preserve the head from an undue inclination backwards. 
Then each sleeve was fastened tightly down to the side, 
lest the arms should be diverted from their due position ; 
and the gristle of the legs was left to harden into bones 
and muscles, within a strong casing. Around the head 
was affixed a small "pad," resembling a bolster, stuffed 
with some soft and elastic substance, which was to answer 
the same purpose as the " fender" of a steam-vessel, or 
" buffer" of a railway carriage, and preserve it from ap- 
prehended bruises, contusions, and lacerations, from a 
collision with the floor or corners of the tables ; and when 
the day of unbinding, unstrapping, and uncasing the 
infant did arrive, it was quite a domestic festival. 

One would naturally have thought, that people who 
took such pains to preserve the infant figure from distor- 
tion, would have taken a pride in displaying the figure 
in its compactness and integrity when matured, instead of 
disguising it in forms and shapes unnatural and ungrace- 




IN traversing the streets of London, it was no uncom- 
mon sight to see a mob collected before a respectable house 
making the most discordant din imaginable; some with 
musical instruments, others with marrow-bones and 
cleavers, and the rest with tin-kettles, saucepans, shovels, 
or any implement on which they could lay their hands, 
and from which they might produce a sonorous noise. 
This was the "rough music" which always serenaded a 
newly-married couple, and which, although still jealously 
kept up in some country districts, is nearly banished from 
the metropolis. Hogarth, in the " Marriage of the In- 
dustrious Apprentice to his Master's Daughter" (Industry 
and Idleness), gives us an excellent representation of one 
of these scenes. The cripple known as " Philip in the 
Tub," who is introduced into the group, was a general 
attendant upon the rough music, and seldom failed to be 
present at a wedding. This print gave birth to the fol- 
lowing remarks upon the practice by M. Lichtenberg, a 
German commentator on Hogarth : " It is the custom in 
England, or at least in London, for the butchers to make, 
before the houses of the newly-married on the morning 


after the wedding, if they think it will pay them for their 
trouble, a kind of wild Janissary music. They perform it 
by striking their cleavers with the marrow-bones of the 
animals they have slain. To comprehend that this music 
is we shall not say supportable, for that is not here the 
question but that it is not entirely objectionable, we shall 
observe that the breadth of the English cleaver is to that 
of the German nearly in the same proportion as the 
diameter of the English ox is to that of Germany. When, 
therefore, properly struck, they produce no despicable 
clang at least, certainly a better one than logs of wood 
emit when thrown to the ground." 

While on the subject of marriages, we are reminded 
that we have a remarkable curiosity connected with it, 
and must find a place on the shelves of our museum, and 
the pages of this its catalogue, for the Fleet Marriage 
System of the Eighteenth Century. 

The shop-windows in Fleet-street and Ludgate-hill 
often displayed a notice that " weddings" were " performed 
within." And, as you passed along the streets, you would 
be asked the astounding question, " Would you like to be 
married, sir?" 

The terrible and cruel abuses of the Fleet Prison, under 
the execrable Huggins and Bambridge, were accompanied 
by one more ludicrous, yet of the most mischievous ten- 
dency. Previously to the passing of the New Marriage 
Act of 1753, which rendered the publication of banns 
compulsory, clergymen confined for debt in the Fleet 
were allowed the privilege of marrying couples within its 
precincts. Mr. Knight, in his amusing collection of the 
curiosities of all ages of British history, entitled "Old 
England," mentions that one of these parsons, named 
Wyatt, realised, according to his own memorandum-book, 
57L 12s. 9d., in fees, in a single month; that another, 


William Dare, married monthly, on an average, one hun- 
dred and fifty, or two hundred couples, and was forced to 
have a curate to assist him ; and that the most notorious 
of them, Keith, married one hundred and seventy-three 
couples in one day. When the time of the enjoyment 
of this privilege was limited, and on the last day allowed 
by the act, the 24th of March, 1753, upwards of three 
hundred marriages took place. 

" False names, half names, or even no names at all," 
adds Mr. Knight, "would do with these most liberal 
gentry ; and, if all that were not sufficient, they would get 
up a sham certificate of marriage^ without any marriage 
taking place. A marriage of to-day could be dated back 
for a twelvemonth or two; if bride or bridegroom could 
not come, there was one ready to act proxy. Women 
who were in debt might come here, be married to a hus- 
band regularly attached to the place for the purpose, and, 
as soon as married, part to meet no more he quite con- 
tent, for a handsome gratuity, to be liable to all her debts 
she able to laugh at all her old creditors, and take in 
new ones. Lastly, if money was short, you might *go 
upon tick,' as the register has it." In short, it would 
appear they were provided with every contingency that 
might arise. 

Idlers about Fleet Market were often amused by the 
sight of a carriage, surrounded by the parsons and their 
" touters," as coaches near the theatres are besieged by 
vendors of play-bills, while the cries rang round of " A 
parson, sir?" " I am the clerk and registrar of the Fleet." 
" This way, madam, that fellow will carry you to a little 
puddling alehouse." " Come with me ! he will take you 
to a brandy-shop !" &c. Here we must again quote Mr. 
Knight for a graphic account of the marriage ceremony 
which ensued: "As the party ascend the prison stairs, 


and pass along the gallery, they receive various invitations 
to stop. A coal-heaver is especially pressing : This,' says 
he, * is the famous Lord Mayor's chapel ; you will get 
married cheaper here than in any other part of the Fleet !' 
The parson who has got the job looks daggers at him, but 
receives a horse-laugh in reply; and, by-the-by, the pair 
are fortunate their worthy conductor is sober to-day. 
They enter his rooms. There is a hint about brandy and 
wine, which the excellent priest deals in, as well as wed- 
lock, and both are called for; and the ceremony now 
proceeds, and is performed, on the whole, decently enough." 
"But," says Mr. Knight, with great significance, "woe 
betide the bridegroom if he has not made up his mind to 
pay handsomely, even according to the Fleet standard, 
otherwise he will not soon forget the Fleet parson's lesson 
in < Billingsgate/ " 

We may consider the Gretna marriages of the present 
day productive of serious mischief, but these were much 
more dangerous to the well-being of society and the cause 
of morality. No questions being asked, minors were en- 
trapped and married, the weak-minded kidnapped into 
wedlock, and even some married forcibly against their 
will, to men whom perhaps they had never seen before. 
Mr. Knight copies a significant entry from one of the 

registers : 

" William and Sarah ; he dressed in a gold 

waistcoat like an officer; she, a beautiful young lady, with 
two fine diamond rings, and a black high-crowned hat, 
and very well dressed at Boyce's. N.B. There was 
four or five young Irish fellows seemed to me, after the 
marriage was over, to have deluded the young woman." 

In the Grub-street Journal, No. 270, February 27th, 
1735, these Fleet marriages are alluded to as " the ruinous 


marriages practised in the liberties of the Fleet and there- 
abouts, by a sett of drunken, swearing parsons, with their 
myrmidons, that wear black coats, and pretend to be clerks 
and registers to the Fleet. These ministers of wicked- 
ness," the writer proceeds, " ply about Ludgate-hill, 
pulling or forcing people to some puddling alehouse or 
brandy-shop to be married, even on a Sunday, stopping 
them as they go to church, and almost tearing their 
cloathes off their backs." 

There appears, then, to have been as much danger of 
being married in the heart of the City against your Avill 
as of being murdered. It must have been strange to hear 
the citizen's wife, in broad noon-day, on taking leave of a 
visitor, after a morning's chat, say, " Take care of yourself 
mind you don't get married as you go down Ludgate- 
hill!" but the caution would hardly appear superfluous, 
when we read the statements contained in a letter to the 
Grub-street Journal which we have just quoted: 

" Since Midsummer last, a young lady of birth and 
fortune was deluded and forced from her friends, and, by 
the assistance of a wry-necked swearing parson, married 
to an atheistical wretch, whose life is a constant practice 
of vice and debauchery. And, since the ruin cf my re- 
lation, another lady of my acquaintance had like to have 
been trepanned in the following manner: The lady had 
appointed to meet a gentlewoman at the old playhouse in 
Drury-lane, but extraordinary business prevented her 
coming. Being alone, when the play was over, she bade 
a boy call a coach for the City. One dressed like a gen- 
tleman helps her into it and jumps in after her. c Madam,' 
says he, 'this coach was called for me, and, since the 
weather is so bad, and there is no other, I beg leave to 
bear you company. I am going into the City, and will 


set you down wherever you please.' The lady begged to 
be excused, but he bade the coachman drive on. Being 
come to Ludgate-hill, he told her his sister, who waited his 
coming but five doors up the court, would go with her in 
two minutes. He went and returned with his pretended 
sister, who asked her to step in but one minute, and she 
would wait upon her in the coach. The poor lady foolishly 
followed her into the house, when instantly the sister 
vanished, and a tawny fellow in a black coat and a black 
wig appeared. ' Madam, you are come in good time : the 
doctor was just a-going.' i The doctor !' says she, horridly 
frighted, fearing it was a madhouse ; ' what has the doctor 
to do with me?' 'To marry you to that gentleman; the 
doctor has waited for you these three hours, and will be 
paid by you or that gentleman before you go.' e That 
gentleman,' says she, recovering herself, 'is worthy a 
better fortune than mine,' and begged hard to be gone. 
But Doctor Wryneck swore she should be married, or if 
she would not he would still have his fee, and register the 
marriage from that night. The lady finding she could 
not escape without money or a pledge, told them she 
liked the gentleman so well she would certainly meet him 
to-morrow night, and gave them a ring as a pledge, 
c which,' says she, ' was my mother's gift on her deathbed, 
enjoining that, if ever I married, it should be my wedding- 
ring.' By which cunning contrivance she was delivered 
from the black doctor and his tawny crew." 

The lady who gives this ^account of the hazardous ad- 
venture of her friend was curious to see something of 
these Fleet marriages. " So," she says, " some time after 
this I went with this lady and her brother, in a coach, to 
Ludgate-hill in the daytime, to see the manner of their 


picking up people to be married. As soon as our coach 
stopped near Fleet-bridge, up comes one of the myrmidons. 
6 Madam,' says he, 'you want a parson?' * Who are you? 
says I. ' I am the clerk and registrar of the Fleet.' < Show 
me the chapel.' At which comes a second, desiring me 
to go along with him. Says he, ' That fellow will carry 
you to a puddling alehouse.' Says a third, ' Go with me 
he will carry you to a brandy-shop.' In the interim 
comes the doctor: 6 Madam/ says he, ' I'll do your job for 
you presently.' ' Well, gentlemen,' says I, * since you 
can't agree, and I can't be married quietly, I'll put it off 
till another time ;' so drove away." 

The open manner in which these things were done, as 
well as the competition existing among the several par- 
sons, are shown in the following advertisement, of which 
scores of a similar kind appeared in the newspapers : 

" Marriages with a license, certificate, and a crown 
stamp, at a guinea, at the new chapel, next door to the 
china-shop, near Fleet-bridge, London, by a regular-bred 
clergyman, and not by a Fleet parson, as is intimated in 
the public papers; and, that the town may be freed of 
mistakes, no clergyman, being a prisoner in the rules of 
the Fleet, dare marry, and, to obviate all doubts, the 
chapel is not in the verge of the Fleet, but kept by a 
gentleman who was lately chaplain on board one of his 
Majesty's men-of-war, and likewise who had gloriously 
distinguished himself in defence of his king and country, 
and is above committing those little mean actions that 
some men impose on people, being determined to have 
everything conducted with the utmost decency and 
regularity, such as shall all be supported in law and 


This worthy, while he indignantly repels the insinua- 
tion that he was a Fleet parson, was, by his own con- 
fession at least, a chaplain in the fleet. 

Smollett, in his continuation of Hume's History, con- 
firms all that has been said of the frightful evils attendant 
upon the impunity enjoyed by these Fleet parsons. He 
even goes further in his deprecation of them and their 
doings : 

" There was a band of profligate miscreants, the refuse 
of the clergy, dead to every sentiment of virtue, aban- 
doned to all sense of decency and decorum, for the most 
part prisoners for debt or delinquency, and, indeed the 
very outcasts of human society, who hovered about the 
verge of the Fleet prison, to intercept customers, plying 
like porters for employment, and performed the ceremony 
of marriage, without license or question, in cellars, garrets, 
or alehouses, to the scandal of religion and the disgrace of 
that order which they professed. The ease with which 
this ecclesiastical sanction was obtained, and the vicious 
disposition of those wretches, open to the practices of 
fraud and corruption, were productive of polygamy, indi- 
gence, conjugal infidelity, prostitution, and every curse 
that could embitter the married state." 

Some idea may be formed of the magnitude of this evil, 
when we state that, from October, 1704, to February, 
1705, the number of these marriages was 2594, or nearly 
at the rate of 8000 per annum ! But we think we have 
adduced sufficient evidence to convince the reader that it 
was full time that a stop was put to these proceedings by 
the Marriage Act, which rendered it punishable by death 
to give a false certificate or make a false registry. 

Another curious feature connected with marriage in the 
last century, was the reporting of the dower of the lady 


in the announcement of the marriage. The following ex- 
amples from the London Magazine of September, 1735, 
will serve to show that, in some instances, the gentleman's 
portion was stated: 

" Morgan, William, of Denbigh, in North Wales, Esq., 
to Miss Craddock, sole daughter of John Craddock, of 
Chester, Esq., an 8000Z. fortune. 

" Sir Edward Bering, of Surrenden-Dering in Kent, 
to Mrs. Mompesson, a young widow lady of 30,000/. 

" Mr. William Pearce, an eminent surgeon, of Brick- 
layers' Hall, in Leadenhall-street, to Mrs. Mary Hardy, 
of Mile-end, a 10,OOOZ. fortune. 

" Mr. Murray, nephew of Mr. Murray, the face painter, 
who died about two months since, and left him upwards 
of 40000/., to Miss Turner, daughter of Mrs. Turner, of 
Gloucester-street," &c. &c. &c. 

There was little in the Funeral Customs of the last 
century that was different to that of its successor. The 
practice of persons of wealth "lying in state" was more 
general; and even the bodies of wealthy merchants and 
tradesmen were sometimes laid out amidst black velvet 
hangings, with wax candles beside the coffins, and the 
doors of their houses thrown open, for the public and 
their neighbours to come and look at them. The mourn- 
ful pageantry of lying in state was kept up for several 
days after the death, and the funeral was generally con- 
ducted by torchlight, the chamber of death remaining 
religiously closed and locked in many instances for years, 
till, as in the case of Sir Roger de Coverley, all the best 
rooms were shut up in honour of departed ancestors. As 
soon as convenient after the death, " searchers " were em- 
ployed to examine the body and see that there were no 



marks of foul play, and, if the deceased were a female, 
these were generally a parcel of gin-drinking old women, 
appointed by the parish officers, but performing their 
duties very inefficiently and indecorously, and their fees 
appear to have ranged from half-a-crown to seven-and- 
sixpence ; and, after them, came the " plumper," " whose 
business," says the Oxford and Cambridge Monthly Mis- 
cellany of September, 1 750, " is to bedizen the dead body, 
and make what the ladies call ' a charming corpse.' " 

We have before us an undertaker's bill of a date as late 
as September, 1780, for the funeral of a person of the 
middle class, which amounts to 6 \l. odd, and contains the 

following items : 

s. d. 
To 32 men, for carrying of ye lights at 2s. 6d. . .400 

To 32 branches for ditto, 2s. each 054* 

To 68 Ibs. of wax candles, for ditto, at 3s. per Ib. . . . 10 4 
To 2 beadles attending ye corps, with silk dressings and gowns 110 
&c. &c. 

The practice of burying by torchlight, then, had thus 
long survived Pope's severe satire : 

When Hopkins dies, a thousand lights attend 
The wretch, who living, saved a candle's end. 

Every mourner at a funeral, as may be observed in the 
last scene of Hogarth's " Harlot's Progress," was provided 
with a branch of rosemary, probably at first adopted as a 
precaution against contagion, but it afterwards came to be 
considered a grave breach of decorum to appear at a fune- 
ral without one of these sprigs. 

The same inquisitiveness on the part of the public, 
prying into private affairs, or the same ostentation on the 
part of individuals which led to their making a parade of 

* So charged in the original. 


their newly-acquired wealth, and originated the practice 
of reporting the dowry which an eligible marriage brought 
into a family, may have urged the publication of all de- 
tails of the fortunes left behind, in the obituaries inserted 
in the magazines and newspapers. Thus the London 
Magazine of October, 1735, gives a list of deaths, among 
which are: 

" At Littlecot, in the county of Wilts, Francis Popham, 
Esq., a gentleman of 70007. fortune. 

" Sir John Tash, Knt., Alderman of Walbrook Ward, 
in the sixty-first year of his age, reputed worth 200,0007.," 
&c. &c. 

Where is there a greater moral lesson taught than in 
this union of pageantry, pomp, empty show, and ostenta- 
tion, with the leveller of all distinctions, Death ! 

E 2 




IN the chapter devoted to fashion and fashionable cus- 
toms, we have stated that Vauxhall and Ranelagh were 
places of resort for " the quality" and higher ranks of 
citizens; the popular rendezvous of the theatre and the 
coffee-house will be left for separate chapters, and the out- 
of-door amusements and entertainments of the period claim 
the present one to themselves. Vauxhall, the " Spring 
Garden" of Sir Roger de Coverley, had a formidable com- 
petitor in Ranelagh, as well as minor ones in Cupar's 
Gardens, Marylebone Gardens, and a host of imitators. 

Ranelagh was situated at Chelsea, near the Royal Col- 
lege. The principal entertainments, as at Vauxhall, were 
vocal and instrumental music and fireworks. Sometimes 
vaulters, jugglers, equestrians, &c., performed their feats 
and wonders. Sometimes a ballet was introduced, and 
often a masquerade. The gardens, also, were frequently 
used for public dinners, suppers, and breakfasts ; but the 
general entertainments were music, singing, and dancing. 
In the former department, the illustrious. Dr. Arne, the 
brother of Mrs. Gibber, and composer of Addison's " Ro- 
samond," Fielding's " Tom Thumb," Milton's " Comus," 
" Artaxerxes," and a number of operas, was once engaged 


here in the choral and instrumental arrangements ; but the 
principal purpose of fashionable visitors was less to see and 
hear than to be seen and noticed to promenade the 
"genteel" walks, hear a few staves of some signer's song, 
gaze at the company, and wind up the evening with an 

The music was truly enchanting, 

Right glad was I when I came near it ; 
But in fashion I found I was wanting 

Twas the fashion to walk and not hear it. 

So says Bloomfield in his visit to Ranelagh. 

What wonders were there to be found 

That a clown might enjoy or disdain ! 
First we traced the gay ring all around, 

Ay, and then we went round it again. 
Fair maids who at home in their haste 

Had left all clothing else but a train, 
Swept the floor clean as slowly they paced, 

And then walked round and swept it again. 

Such was the insipid routine of the "better sort" of 
visitors ; but " vulgar people," to wit, London tradesmen 
and country cousins, who were bent upon having the full 
value of their shillings and half-crowns, were waiting at 
the gates an hour before the time of opening, listened to 
the music, rapturously encored every song, good or bad, 
for the mere sake of " having it over again," gazed at the 
waterworks, and were heartily delighted with the fire- 
works, traversed the gardens from end to end, admired the 
stupendous rotunda, and then, unlike their fashionable 
companions, instead of repairing to a box to sip sour wine 
and demolish meagre sandwiches, quitted the gardens no 
sooner than they were obliged, and adjourned to a neigh- 
bouring tavern to discuss a hearty supper. 

" Cupar's gay Groves" were on the present site of the 


church in Waterloo-road, and besides these, there were 
Marylebone Gardens (closed in 1777-8), Bagnigge Wells, 
Islington Spa, Lambeth Wells, and a number of similar 
places for out-of-door recreations. They were all, of 
course, more or less, the resorts of loose characters of both 
sexes, who made them a species of exchange for the trans- 
action of their business. 

Then there was Bellsize, an ancient mansion, with park 
and extensive grounds, in the Hampstead-road. In 1720, 
the advertisement of this place of entertainment announced 
that the park, wilderness, and gardens were " wonderfully 
improved, and filled with a variety of birds, which compose 
a most melodious and delightsome harmony. Every 
morning at seven o'clock the music begins to play, and 
continues the whole day through, and any persons inclined 
to walk and divert themselves in the morning, may as 
cheaply breakfast there on tea or coffee as in their own 

Coaches ran from Hampstead to Bellsize, carrying pas- 
sengers to the gardens for sixpence ; but the terrors of the 
times are graphically expressed in the following pithy 
notice : 

" For the security of the guests, there are twelve stout 
fellows, completely armed, to patrol betwixt London and 
Bellsize, to prevent the insults of highwaymen and foot- 
pads which may infest the roads." 

This kind of notice was nothing unusual. The pro- 
prietor of Marylebone Gardens, in 1746, when their at 
tractions were at their highest, had a guard of soldiers to 
protect the visitors from and to London; and, in 1764, 
Thomas Lowe, who was then proprietor, was induced to 
offer ten guineas reward for the apprehension of any high- 
wayman on the way to the gardens, as the perils of the 


road (the gardens were on the site of the Regent's Park) 
had deterred many from going. But the only fear of 
robbery was not to be confined to the road ^gmbliggJiai 
beeja introduced at all these places, especially at Maryle- 
bone Ijfardgnspwhere, in Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's 
day, " some dukes bowl'd time away," and many a man 
lost more in an evening's play at the Gardens than he 
would have run any danger of being robbed of outside." 
Akin to the above announcement, is that contained in an 
advertisement of Ranelagh Gardens, in 1 754 " A strong 
guard is stationed upon the roads." So that the danger 
which these u guards" were to provide against was not 
confined to any particular locality. But all this belongs 
to another subject; let us return to Bellsize. 

So popular did this place of resort become (as its 
original plan deserved), that the Prince and Princess of 
Wales visited it and dined there; but the introduction of 
gambling and intrigue compromised its character, and led 
to its final closing. 

The entertainment of the lower class was not unpro- 
vided for they had their White Conduit House, Copen- 
hagen House, Peerless Pool, and Hornsey Wood House, 
in the northern suburbs, and the Dog and Duck on the 
site of New Bethlehem, where al-fresco amusements and 
manly and healthy sports could be enjoyed, and where 
they might ramble on the green sward after the business 
of the day, or sit upon the rustic benches, and enjoy a 
refreshing glass of " purl" or " twopenny," with a rural 
prospect of grassy fields before them, inhaling with each 
draught fresh and fragrant air, instead of the vice which 
they now drink in with their vile and spurious liquors at 
the penny theatre, the gin palace, or the " saloon" concert. 

Islington, Chelsea, and Stepney, then quite " the coun- 


try," were also mucli frequented by the middle and lower 
classes on Sundays and holidays, but these were as dan- 
gerous in the return home at night as Hampstead ; and, at 
the Angel, at Islington, a bell used to be rung at intervals, 
to collect the visitors who were journeying cityward, in 
order that they might start in a body, and afford each 
other mutual protection against footpads and robbers. 

In the Daily Advertiser, of May 6th, 1745, we meet 
with an advertisement of a nondescript house of enter- 
tainment, which seems to have been so popular as to excite 
competition : 

" This is to give notice to all ladies and gentlemen, at 
Spencer's Original Breakfasting Hut, between Sir Hugh 
Middleton's Head and Saint John-street Road, by the New 
River side, fronting Sadler's Wells, may be had, every 
morning, except Sundays, fine tea, sugar, bread, butter, 
and milk, at 4d. per head : coffee at 3d. a dish. And in 
the afternoon, tea, sugar, and milk, at 3d. per head, with 
good attendance. Coaches may come up to the farthest 
garden door, next to the bridge in Saint John-street 
Road, near Sadler's Wells gate. Note. Ladies, &c. are 
desired to take notice that there is another person set up 
in opposition to me the next door, which is a brick house, 
and faces the little gate by the Sir Hugh Middleton's, and 
therefore mistaken for mine ; but mine is the little boarded 
place by the river-side, and my back-door faces the same 
as usual, for 

" I am not dead, I am not gone, 

Nor liquors do I sell, 
But as at first I still go on, 
Ladies, to use you well. 
No passage to my hut I have, 

The river runs before, 
Therefore your care I humbly crave, 
Pray don't mistake my door. 

" Yours to serve, S. SPENCER." 


Masquerades were in great favour during the last cen- 
tury, and, like the other follies of fashion, fell under the 
lash of Hogarth, who satirises the perverted taste of the 
town, which neglected Shakspeare and Jonson for such 
absurdities, in his masquerades at Burlington-gate. But, 
in the time of the " Spectator," the rage for these enter- 
tainments seems to have been equally warm ; and the con- 
tradictions and anomalies, arising out of want of judgment, 
taste, or historical knowledge of the costumiers and maskers 
is heartily laughed at. 

Cock-fighting, boxing, and bull-baiting, were among the 
fashionable sports of the period. The former, as illustrated 
by Hogarth, was patronised by men of station, and wa?, 
in fact, ranked essentially among the more aristocratic 
amusements. " I am just got home," writes the Right 
Honourable Richard Rigby to George Selwyn (March 
12th, 1745), "from a cock-match, where I have won 40/. 
in ready money;" and, on the same day, "Yesterday I 
spent good part of the day with my Lord Coke at a cock- 
match." The King of Denmark, a few years later, on his 
visiting this country, was taken to see a cock-fight. 
Boxing, tqo, was aristocratic, amphitheatres for its display 
being regularly advertised in the public papers, and, in 
1723, so royally was it favoured, that the king ordered a 
ring to be marked out in Hyde Park, about five hundred 
yards from Grosvenor-gate, and properly fenced in ; whilst, 
in the French theatre, in the Haymarket, those renowned 
champions, Figg and Sparkes, fought for a prize on De- 
cember 3rd, 1731. 

The most revolting and disgusting spectacles of this 
kind were prize-fights, in which jv omen were the compe- 
titors for the stakes, and, half-naked, battered and bruised 
each other, without cause or provocation, to the heart's 
delight of a u respectable" circle of beholders! Under 



date June 22nd, 1768, we read: "Wednesday last, two 
women fought for a new chemise, valued at half a guinea, 
in the Spa-fields, near Islington. The battle was won by a 
woman called ' Bruising Peg,' who beat her antagonist in 
a terrible manner." 

In 1722, we find the following: 

"CHALLENGE. I, Elizabeth Wilkinson, of Clerken- 
well, having had some words with Hannah Hyfield, and 
requiring satisfaction, do invite her to meet me upon the 
stage, and box me for three guineas ; each woman holding 
half-a-crown in each hand, and the first woman that drops 
the money to lose the battle." 

" ANSWER. I, Hannah Hyfield, of Newgate Market, 
hearing of the resoluteness of Elizabeth Wilkinson, will 
not fail, God willing, to give her more blows than words, 
desiring home blows, and from her no favour; she may 
expect a good thumping." 

The half-crowns were to be held to prevent the com- 
batants resorting to the more natural ( !) weapons of their 
sex the nails ! 

Stoke Newington seems to have produced many boxers 
probably from among the gipsy tribe, who then fre- 
quented the " Green Lanes " about that picturesque little 
village : 

" At Mr. Stakes' Amphitheatre in Islington Road, this 
present Monday, being the 7 of October, will be a com- 
plete Boxing Match by the two following Championesses : 
Whereas I, Ann Field, of Stoke Newington, ass-driver, 
well known for my abilities, in boxing in my own defence happened in my way, having been affronted 
by Mrs. Stokes, styled the European Championess, do 
fairly invite her to a trial of her best skill in Boxing for 
10 pounds, fair rise and fall; and question not but to give 
her such proofs of my judgment that shall oblige her to 


acknowledge me Championess of the Stage, to the satisfac- 
tion of all my friends." 

" I, Elizabeth Stokes, of the City of London, have not 
fought in this way since I fought the famous boxing- 
woman of Billingsgate 29 minutes, and gained a complete 
victory (which is six years ago); but as the famous Stoke 
Newington ass-woman dares me to fight her for the 10 
pounds, I do assure her I will not fail meeting her for the 
said sum, and doubt not that the blows which I shall pre- 
sent her with will be more difficult for her to digest than 
any she ever gave her asses. Note. A man known by the 
name of Rugged and Tuff, challenges the best man of 
Stoke Newington to fight him for one guinea to what sum 
they please to venture. N.B. Attendance will be given 
at one, and the encounter to begin at four precisely. 
There will be the diversion of Cudgel-playing as usual." 
Daily Post, July 7th, 1728. 

The public papers teemed with challenges from boxers, 
but in a different style from those now so concisely stated 
in our sporting prints. Here is an advertisement, in which 
the gauntlet is thrown down with a mighty flourish of 
trumpets : 

" Whereas I, William Willis, commonly called by the 
name of the ' Fighting Quaker,' have fought Mr. Small- 
wood, about twelve months since, and held him the 
tightest to it, and bruised and battered more than any one 
he ever encountered, though I had the misfortune to be 
beat by an accidental fall; the said Smallwood, flushed 
with the success blind Fortune then gave him, and the 
weak attempts of a few vain Irishmen and boys, that have 
of late fought him for a minute or two, makes him think 
himself unconquerable, to convince him of the falsity of 
which, I invite him to fight me for 100/., at the time 
and place above mentioned, when I doubt not I shall prove 


the truth of what I have asserted, by pegs, darts, hard 
blows, falls, and cross-buttocks." 

The refined taste for bear and bull-baiting was gratified 
by two rival establishments, the King's Bear-garden, which 
existed till 1754, at Hockley-in-the-Hole, on the site of 
the present Brickhill and Ray-streets, Clerkenwell, and 
the New Bear-garden at Marylebone. There were also 
arenas for boxing, fencing, wrestling, and dog-fighting ; 
but the legitimate sport of the place was such as is an- 
nounced in the following advertisement, selected from 
many of a similar nature, dated 1730: "At his Majesty's 
Bear-garden, at Hockley-in-the-Hole, Monday, 14th of 
September, 1730, a mad bull to be dressed up with fire- 
works and turned loose in the game place. Likewise a 
dog to be dressed up with fireworks over him, and turned 
loose with the man in the ground. Also a bear to be let 
loose at the same time, and a cat to be tied to the bull's 
tail. Note. The doors will be opened at four, as the 
sports begin at five exactly, because the diversion will last 
long, and the days grow short." 

Here is the same glorious " sport" at another arena ; 
we copy a handbill of the period : " This is to give no- 
tice, that to-morrow, for a day's diversion, at Mr. Stokes's 
amphitheatre, a mad bull dressed up with fireworks will 
be baited. Also cudgel-playing for a silver cup, and 
wrestling for a pair of buckskin breeches. September 3rd, 
1729. Gallery seats, 2s. 6d., 2s., Is. 6d., and Is." 

We could afford a laugh at the fanciful customs of our 
grandfathers, but we must not laugh now. This is no 
folly of the dandy it is the brutality of the savage. 

The same den at Hockley-in-the-Hole was the scene of 
different though less hateful sports broadsword and 
cudgelling. Challenges frequently appeared in the papers 
from one "master of the noble science of defence" (so 


they styled themselves) to another, to " fight with back- 
sword, sword and dagger, sword and buckler, single 
falchion, case of falchions, quarterstaff and singlestick ; 
he that gives the most cuts to have the most money." 
Very frightful gashes and stabs were given and received 
at these gladiatorial exhibitions, yet they were respectably 
attended, and in some instances women took a part in 

How coolly does Mr. Button talk of " cutting down" his 
antagonists : 

" A Tryal of Skill to be performed at His Majesty's 
Bear Garden in Hockley-in-the-Hole, on Thursday next, 
being the 9th instant, betwixt these following masters: 
Edmund Button, master of the noble science of defence, 
ivho hath lately cut down Mr. Hasgit and the Champion of 
the West, and 4 besides, and James Harris, an Hereford- 
shire man, master of the noble science of defence, who has 
fought 98 prizes and never was worsted, to exercise the 
usual weapons, at 2 o'clock in the afternoon precisely." 
Postman, July 4, 1701. 

Cudgelling was not quite extinct, but we find it in 
strange company ; here is a medley : 

" On Wednesday the 13th, at Windsor, a piece of plate 
is to be fought for at cudgels, by ten men on a side, from 
Berkshire and Middlesex. The next day a hat and feather 
to be fought for by ten men on a side from the counties 
aforesaid. Ten bargemen are to eat ten quarts of hasty 
pudding, well buttered, but infernally hot ; he that has 
done first to have a silver spoon of ten shillings value, and 
the second five shillings. And as they have anciently 
had the title of the Merry Wives of Windsor, six old 
women belonging to Windsor town challenge any six old 
women in the universe (we need not, however, go farther 
than our own country) to outscold them ; the best in 



three heats to have a suit of head cloths, and (what old 
women generally want) a pair of nutcrackers." Read's 
Journal, September 9th, 1721. 

Another pastime in which women were the actors 
still indecorous, but more ludicrous than painful was the 
smock-racing in Pall Mall, which appears to have been 
kept up as late as 1733. If this appear strange, what 
V- will the reader say of football being played in the Strand? 
Yet this favourite sport was carried on in that thorough- 
fare, far into the eighteenth century, and must have been 
rather awkward for passengers who were taking a sober 
stroll along the street ; for Gay says, in his " Art of 
Walking the Streets" 

The 'prentice quits his shop to join the crew, 
Increasing crowds the flying game pursue. 

The football would give no light blow to the skin which 
was protected only by " stockings of amber-coloured silk," 
and why a public street should have been selected for the 
game, when fields were close at hand even to the Strand 
we do not find explained ; nor why cricket was played, 
at the same time, " by the 'prentices in the porches of 

Bowling-allies were also kept up in London, and pretty 
well attended. We give the copies of two handbills, an- 
nouncing the game of bowls : 

" On Thursday next, being the 13th of March, 1718, 
the bowling-greens will be opened at the Prospect House, 
Islington, where there will be accommodation for all 
gentlemen bowlers." 

" May, 1757. To be bowled for on Monday next, at 
the Ked Cow, in Saint George's Fields, a pair of silver 
buckles, value fourteen shillings, at five pins, each pin a 
yard apart. He that brings most pins at three bowls has 


the buckles, if the money is in ; if not, the money each 
man has put in. Three bowls for sixpence, and a pint of 
beer out of it for the good of the house." 

The archers of Finsbury contrived long to preserve 
their ground amidst the spread of bricks and mortar, 
levelling hedges, filling up ditches, and replacing their 
marks, in a desperate encounter with innovation and 
growing enterprise, until 1786, when they were beaten 
from their fields, which soon became lines of streets and 
courts. But archery had been on the wane since the 
eighteenth century began. 

The fox-hunting season began much earlier than it does < 
now, for does not Sir Andrew Freeport say to Sir Roger 
de Coverley, " the country gentlemen passed like a blast 
over the fields of corn?" No wonder if farmers grumbled 
then; no wonder that they got an Act of Parliament 
passed early in the reign of George III., prohibiting fox- 
hunting till after harvest. 

The heading of the present chapter will cover, in its 
application, a subject nearly akin to it, which we shall 
now proceed to glance at Public Rejoicings, Fasts, and 

Zealous Protestants as were our grandsires, with their 
riots of '80, and "No Popery," they still followed the 
Popish practice of observing saints' days, and many of the 
usual festivals of the Romish Church. Business was in a 
great measure suspended, and places of worship opened on 
the anniversaries of any of the saints. This day was dedi- 
cated Tb St. Jude that was sacred to St. Matthew ; to- 
day was the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul another 
the Fast of Shrove Tuesday ; and most of them, feasts and 
fasts, saints' days and sinners' days, were holy-days. 

And then, besides these spiritual festivals, there were 
celebrations of worldly and profane events : there was the 


Martyrdom of King Charles, the .Restoration of his son, 
the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot these, too, were 

So numerous and frequent were they, in fact, that in 
1774, it was reckoned that the public offices were closed for 
holidays at least the eighth parjLfif tiie year. 

Then there was the king's birthday and the queen's 
and the birthdays of their numerous progeny. Then came 
the days of thanksgiving, when the king had recovered 
from a sickness, or the queen been delivered of a child. 
Thanks were returned for every victory during the wars 
that were the public business of the last century in other 
words, whenever we had slaughtered some thousands of 
soldiers, or sent a man-of-war to the bottom of the ocean, 
such matters were acknowledged by a general thanks- 
giving. Not content with this, we testified our joy at 
every victory by other means ; guns boomed the glorious 
intelligence from the Tower wharf flags streamed from 
the masts of ships the liberated schoolboy shouted the 
songs which had been written for the occasion, with a 
loud voice and cheerful face " Gazettes extraordinary" 
appeared in rapid succession, and were eagerly devoured 
by the politicians of the coffee-houses shops were closed, 
and churches opened. But in the evening was seen the 
grand climax of the people's joy, when the streets were 
crowded with noisy thousands, all pouring anxiously to 
the west-end of the town to see " the general illumina- 
tion." A stranger would have imagined that every 
inhabitant, rich and poor, participated heartily in the 
national rejoicing, for every house exhibited its devices of 
many-coloured lamps, and rows of lighted candles. But 
there was another powerful and active agent at work to 
promote this unanimity of purpose, and that was a terror 
of the mob, who had a strong propensity for breaking the 


windows of such refractory householders as refused to 
" light up" and thus testify their patriotism on so brilliant 
an occasion. Let us see how an unfortunate Quaker was 
served, who seemed to have attached no more value to his 
window-panes than to the event which was to be com- 
memorated. Here is an illumination scene of 1759, as 
described in the Annual Register of that year : 

" June 2. The populace assaulted the house of an 
eminent woollen-draper in Cornhill, one of the people 
called Quakers. They pulled up the pavements, and split 
the window-shutters of his shop with large stones; the 
smaller pebbles were flung up as high ,as the third story, 
the windows of which are much damaged in the second 
story not so much as one pane of glass has escaped. The 
windows of the first story were not touched, being fenced 
with strong shutters on the outside. The reason of the 
mob's resentment was his not illuminating his house like 
the rest of his neighbours." 

Very differently did they show their admiration of any 
grand device or attractive transparency, and long and 
loud were the cheers which the mob sent forth to greet 
the ears of those who, in the exuberance of their loyalty, 
had been thoughtless of expense, and whose houses pre- 
sented a grand display of lights. 

The illuminations on the acquittal of Admiral Keppel 
by the court-martial by which he was tried in Feb- 
ruary, 1779, extended throughout the country. We read 
of hackney-coaches plying through London, illuminated 
with lanterns of a grand illumination of the Monument 
of a fishwoman in Piccadilly, who stuck forty-five 
candles among her sprats, and was rewarded by a collec- 
tion of fifty shillings among the mob of bonfires at many 
noblemen's seats in the country; in short, the rejoicing 



was general and extravagant. To equal excess did the 
indignation of the mob extend among the admiral's ac- 
cusers. A mob commenced pulling down the house of Sir 
Hugh Palliser, in Westminster ; another mob broke into the 
house of Lord Sandwich, and demolished the furniture, 
emptying it through the windows into the street ; Lord 
North's windows were broken ; and the effigies of Lord 
Hood and Palliser burned on Tower-hill and at the Royal 

The illumination of houses as a symbol of satisfaction 
and joy undoubtedly survived in the present century ; 
but the system of illumination, of which we have been 
speaking, in its general observance and frequent occur- 
rence, as undoubtedly belonged to the last. 

We have spoken of smock-races in Pall-mall, football 
in the Strand, and cricket-playing in Co vent-garden, but 
what will our readers think of bonfires in Fleet-street ? 
Yet on the 5th of November, the popular anniversary of 
the Gunpowder Plot, "Guys" were duly gibbeted and 
burned in the public thoroughfares ; and Lord Campbell, 
in his " Lives of the Lords Chief Justices," relates how, 
in 1753, Sir Dudley Ryder, when Attorney-General, was 
stopped in Fleet-street, as he was returning in a coach to 
his house in Chancery-lane, from the trial of William 
Owen for a libel on the House of Commons, by a tumul- 
tuous mob, who were celebrating the verdict of acquittal 
over a huge bonfire ; and who, without recognising in 
him the counsel for the Crown, demanded money to drink 
the health of the jury. 

Hogarth gives us one of these scenes beside Temple 
Bar, where two or three distinct fires may be seen; while 
a figure in the foreground is rolling a tar-barrel to add to 
the pile which is to consume the effigy suspended from the 
gallows above it. 




STREET FAIRS have passed away, but not without 
leaving a record behind; and here, in our museum, beside 
the defunct public sports and amusements, will we devote 
a chapter to their memory for May, Southwark, and 
Bartholomew Fairs must not be forgotten among the 
curiosities of the eighteenth century. They were right 
royally favoured in their time, and we must show them 
no disrespect. We find Sir Robert Walpole, when prime 
minister, visiting Bartholomew Fair ; but, in 1740, 
Frederick Prince of Wales attended it with a troop of 
yeomen of the guard with lighted flambeaux. An anec- 
dote is told of Garrick's visit to the fair, when we should 
opine that David's vanity must have sustained a little 
mortification. On tendering his money at the booth 
where "drolls" were exhibited, the cashier, recognising 
his features, rejected the proffered fee, saying, with admi- 
rable taste, " Sir, we never take money of one another" 

The countenance of royalty encouraged exhibitions and 
entertainments of a superior order at these fairs. The 
performers from the Theatres Royal were not above 
appearing at Smithfield, Southwark, and May Fairs. In 
1715, Dawks's News Letter, in announcing the prepara- 


tions for Bartholomew Fair, says: "There is one great 
booth erected for the king's players in the middle of 
Smithfield. The booth is the longest that was ever 

Lee and Harper attended Bartholomew and Southwark 
Fairs ; and we find Pinkethman's company both at South- 
wark and May Fairs: 

" Several constables visited Pinkethman's booth in 
Southwark Fair, and apprehended Pinkethinan, with 
others of his company, just as they had concluded a play 
in the presence of near a hundred and fifty noblemen ana 
gentlemen seated on the stage. They were soon liberated 
on making it appear that they were the king's servants." 
September 13, 1717. 

" Advices from the upper end of Piccadilly say that 
May Fair is utterly abolished ; and we hear Mr. Pinketh- 
rnan has removed his ingenious company of strollers to 
Greenwich." Tatler, April 18, 1709. 

At a still later period we glean from the following 
hand-bills that the leading actors still had booths at these 
fairs : 

" Bartholomew and Southwark Fairs, 1733: 

" At Gibber, Griffin, Bullock, and Hallam's booths - 
c Tamerlane,' intermixed with f The Miser.' 

" At Lee and Harper's booth ' The True and Ancient 
History of Bateman ; or, The Unhappy Marriage,' with 
the comical humours of Sparrow, Pumpkin, and Slicer ; 
and the diverting scene of * The Midwife and Gossips at a 

" At Lee and Harper's booth < Jephthah's Rash Vow; 
or, The Virgin Sacrifice/ with the comical humours of 
Captain Bluster and his man Diddimo. Jephthah, Hulett; 
Captain Bluster, Harper. 


"At Fielding and Hippisley's booth 'Love and 
Jealousy; or, The Downfal of Alexander the Great;' 
with * A Cure for Covetousness.' Lovell, Mrs. Pritchard. 

"At Miller, Mills, and Oates's booth < Jane Shore/ 
with the comical humours of Sir Anthony Noodle and his 
man Weazle" &c., &c. 

May Fair, in 1701, lasted sixteen days, and seems to 
have struggled on against a presentment of the grand 
jury of Westminster in 1708, and the sharp surveillance 
of the grand jury of Middlesex in 1744, until the year 
1756 ; but it is now only a memory and a name, the 
ground being occupied by the mansions of the nobility 
instead of the booths of mountebanks. 

Bartholomew's fourteen-days' fai.' continued, however, 
to a much later period, and, in its dc/Jine, was familiar to 
the present generation. 

Hogarth has left us a representation of Southwark Fair, 
whence we may learn what were the general amusements 
at these fairs. There are the theatres, conjurors, jugglers, 
rope-dancers, raree-shows, dancing-dolls, and gingerbread- 
stalls of modern fairs ; but there were other sports which 
have long been unknown to us. Of these, " ducking" was 
very attractive. Here is a hand-bill announcing a ducking- 
match, which will render a description of the sport un- 
necessary : 

" At May Fair Ducking-Pond, on Monday next, the 
27th June (1748), Mr. Hootton's dog, Nero (with hardly 
a tooth in his head to hold a duck, but well known by 
his goodness to all that have seen him hunt), hunts six 
ducks for a guinea against the bitch called the Flying 
Spaniel, from the ducking-pond on the other side of the 
water, who has beaten all she has hunted against except- 
ing Mr. Hootton's Goodblood. To begin at two o'clock. 


Mr. Hootton begs his customers won't take it amiss to pay 
twopence admittance at the gate, and take a ticket which 
will be allowed as cash in their reckoning. None are 
admitted without a ticket, that such as are not liked may 
be kept out. Note Right Lincoln Ale." 

These ducking-matches were not confined to fairs, for 
we find the following advertisement in the* Postman of 
August the 7th, 1707: 

" A new ducking-pond, to be opened on Monday next, 
at Limehouse, being the llth of August ; when four dogs 
are to play for four pounds, and a lamb to be roasted 
whole, to be given away to all gentlemen sportsmen. To 
begin at ten o'clock in the morning." 

Another exhibition at these fairs was posturising. No 
distortion of the body was too grotesque or too unnatural 
no deformity of the body too difficult to imitate. The 
posture-masters might be suspected of having neither bones 
nor muscles, so lissom was their whole frame. Now the 
toe was in the mouth now at the back of the head ; the 
legs were turned contrary ways, or the back of the head 
where the face should be. One of these worthies is thus 
announced by a hand-bill in 1711 : 

a From the Duke of Marlborough's Head, in Fleet-street, 
during the fair, is to be seen the famous posture-master, 
who far exceeds Clarke and Higgins. He twists his body 
into all deformed shapes, makes his hip and shoulder bones 
meet together, lays his head upon the ground, and turns 
his body round twice or thrice without stirring his head 
from the place." 

In 1736, we find by the papers that "an ass-race at- 
tracted vast crowds to May Fair;" but at an earlier 
period, there appears to have been some business trans- 
acted there, as well as sports and pastimes. The following 


advertisement appeared in trie London newspapers of 
April the 27th, 1700: 

"In Brookfield Market-place, at the east corner of 
Hyde Park, is a fair to be kept for the space of sixteen 
days, beginning with the 1st of May; the first three 
days for live cattle and leather, with the same entertain- 
ments as at Bartholomew Fair ; where there are shops to 
be let, ready built, for all manner of tradesmen that usually 
keep fairs. And so to continue yearly at the same place." 

" Merrie Islington" presented all the appearance of a 
fair throughout the year ; it might, in fact, be said to be 
a complete "fair-j land." There were booths for the 
exhibition of horsemanship, jugglers, &c. ; shows for the 
performances of drolls, interludes, and pantomimes ; cara- 
vans of wild beasts ; arenas for fighting, wrestling, and 
cudgelling. Of these, the most celebrated were the booths 
at the "Three Hats," Dobney's Jubilee Gardens, the 
Pantheon in Spa-fields, and Stokes's Amphitheatre. The 
following is a hand-bill issued from the latter : 

" At . Mr. Stokes's Amphitheatre, Islington-road, on 
Monday, 24th June, 1733, I, John Scale, citizen of 
London, give this invitation to the celebrated Hibernian 
hero, Mr. Robert Barker, to exert his utmost abilities with 
me ; and I, Robert Barker, accept this invitation ; and, if 
my antagonist's courage equal his menaces, glorious will 
be my conquest. Attendance at two. The masters mount 
at five. Vivant Rex et Regina ! " 

But the glories of Islington are faded its waste ground 
is covered. Spa-fields are fields no longer ; and, instead 
of having Moorfields, we have fewer fields, and not a spare 
acre for a booth to be pitched upon. The street fairs of 
London are things that are gone. 




ALTHOUGH we have given the general text of " Trade 
and Commerce" to the present chapter, it must not be - 
supposed that we are going to enter into an elaborate 
history or essay on finance, the currency, or the circulating 
medium, but only to introduce one or two curiosities 
which were features connected with the mercantile and 
commercial world of the last century. 

The merchants congregated on 'Change as at present ; 
and Addison's description of "full 'Change" in 1709 
might serve for an account of it in 1849 ; they also 
resorted to coffee-houses, as they do now, but they were, 
as well as the present, Garraway's, frequented by the 
better class of merchants and citizens Robins's, for foreign 
bankers and ambassadors and Jonathan's, for stock- 
brokers ; but these will be spoken of, among the tribe of 
coffee-houses, in another chapter. 

These " merchant princes" (and well were they worthy 
of the title) at that time lived in the centre of their 
business they had not thought of the West-end and 
their mansions were close to their counting-houses, in 
Spital-square, Leadenhall-street, Fenchurch-street, Broad- 
street, and Austin-friars, Throgmorton-street, Bishopsgate- 


street, with Crosby-square, and Great Saint Helen's, 
Billiter-street, Coleman-street, Basinghall-street, and (es- 
pecially the rich Jew merchants) the streets forming the 
district of Goodman's-fields ; and, in many of these old 
palaces of trade, now let out in chambers and counting- 
houses, the wide and sweeping staircase, carved oaken 
balustrades, massive panelling, richly-corniced ceilings, 
costly sculptured mantelpieces, large and thick window- 
sashes, and heavy doors, tell us of their former splendour. 
Many a fair, small foot has pressed the now ink-stained 
floor in the stately minuet or lively cotillon many a 
sumptuous entertainment has been spread where the 
desks and stools now stand many an emblazoned car- 
riage has set down its passengers at the portals on which 
a string of names is now painted and many a time and 
oft have the running footmen and linkbearers who accom- 
panied it thrust their links into the giant extinguishers 
which, perchance, yet linger, rusty and battered, upon 
the columns of the gate. 

The safe arrival of a convoy from the East or West 
Indies the capture of a fleet of merchantmen by the 
enemy the rise or fall of South Sea Stock or India 
Bonds were added to the subjects which form the con- 
versation on 'Change now-a-days, but, in other respects, 
the merchant of the eighteenth century and his pursuits 
were almost the same as they are now. 

Not so, however, the tradesman. He was an inveterate 
politician and frequenter of the coffee-house. A publica- 
tion called the Dutch Prophet, issued early in the century, 
gives us the following notion of a tradesman's life in 
London at that time, in a kind of prospective diary of a 
day : " Wednesday : Several shopkeepers near St. Paul's 
will rise before six, be upon their knees at chapel a little 


after, promise God Almighty to live righteously and 
soberly before seven, tell fifty lies behind their counters 
by nine, and spend the rest of the morning over tea and 
tobacco at Child's Coffee-house." 

Almost every tradesman's shop was distinguished by a 
particular sign, which swung creaking dismally over the 
footpath as the wind came down the street. Even the 
bankers exhibited their signs over their doors: Child's 
was the "Marygold;" Hoare's, the "Leather Bottle" 
(still represented on their cheques) ; Snow's, the " Golden 
Anchor;" Gosling's, the "Three Squirrels;" and Stone 
and Martin's, the " Grasshopper." The booksellers' 
favourite signs were the "Bible and Crown" (still distin- 
guishing Messrs. Rivingtons' establishment); the "Ho- 
mer's Head," the " Shakspeare's Head," the "Three 
Bibles," the " Angel and Trumpet," the " King's Arms," 
&c. A mercer's, in New Bond-street, was the " Coventry 
Cross;" a baker's, in Clare-market, the "Seven Stars;" 
and a quack medicine-vendor's, in Bride-lane, the " Golden 
Head." The " Spectator" has given us a disquisition on the 
rise and abuse of signs, and the anomalies they presented, 
and almost every one of Hogarth's works show us that 
they were generally adopted. In 1 764 they had increased 
to such extravagant dimensions, each shopkeeper endea- 
vouring, by enlarging his sign, to make it conspicuous be- 
hind his neighbour's, that they not only prevented the 
free circulation of air in the streets, but, being very heavy, 
and some of them weighing as much as four or five hundred 
pounds, they threatened the most fatal accidents to the 
passengers below. In fact, in 1718, during an unusually 
high wind, one of these massive iron signs, opposite Bride- 
lane, in Fleet-street, was blown down, bringing with it 
the entire front of the house to which it was attached, and 


killing four persons and wounding several others. At 
length, in 1764, the Court of Common Council, taking 
into consideration the inconvenience and danger to which 
these huge signs subjected the citizens, ordered that all 
signs should be fastened against the houses with their faces 
to front the street, and not left to swing as formerly, so 
that the streets lost that singular appearance which a long 
line of swinging sign-boards gave them; and the signs 
themselves, no longer answering their intended purposes, 
were gradually discontinued. 

The " circulating media" of this period were very dif- 
ferent to the currency of the present time. There were, 
in addition to shillings, sixpences, halfpence, and farthings, 
golden guineas, half-guineas, seven-shilling pieces, and 
quarter-guineas, dollars taken from the Spanish prizes and 
allowed to circulate, in a scarcity of specie, till re-coined 
at the Mint, and silver threepences and pence copper 
pence not coming into existence till 1797. 

Fines and penalties were often computed in marks, and, 
among similar cases, we find Henry and William Wood- 
fall, the printers, were, on the 25th November, 1774, sen- 
tenced by the King's Bench to pay " a fine of two hundred 
marks," for the publication of a seditious libel. 

There were also one-pound notes issued by the Bank of 
England, and, for a time, copper twopenny-pieces, coined 
at the Soho (Birmingham) Mint. But the most numerous 
class of coins taken by the shopkeepers in exchange for 
their wares, especially in the mining districts and manu- 
facturing towns, were the tradesmen's tokens, or promis- 
sory counters, answering for pence, halfpence, and farthings 
(mostly of copper) ; and some few twopences and three- 
pences of copper. These were issued from private mints, 
during a scarcity of copper, and were allowed to pass 


current (being, like the brass and other tokens of the pre- 
vious century, a legal tender), each piece bearing the name 
and address of the issuer, who was compelled to give a 
one-pound note for two hundred and forty penny tokens, 
and always to honour them when presented. Some of 
them were of elegant design and execution, and of elabo- 
rate finish. The legends and inscriptions were various, 
according to the tastes or trades of their respective proprie- 
tors; and it is believed that upwards of two thousand 
varieties were coined between the years 1787 and 1798. 
Mr. Conder, of Ipswich, published what was considered a 
complete list of them ; but several have been discovered 
and made known through the pages of the Gentleman's 
Magazine, which he has not included in his arrangement. 
They were principally issued by ironmasters and large 
manufacturers, employing a number of hands, who found 
that they at the same time facilitated their payments, and 
became a useful means of advertising. Such a system of 
course gave rise to much confusion, and not a little fraud 
in the forgery or slight variation of the several designs; 
but it was merely intended to answer a temporary pur- 
pose, and was suppressed when there was no longer any 
need for it. 

While on the subject of the coinage, we may mention 
another fact or two connected with it. The offences of 
counterfeiting, and of clipping and defacing the coin of 
the realm, were very frequent in the last century ; and 
both crimes were, with the characteristic severity of the 
time, punishable with death. Stealthily exporting coin 
to the Continent during the wars (it being often packed 
and shipped off in barrels, and, in fact, smuggled over in 
every conceivable way), also subjected the offender to 
heavy penalties, but was nevertheless ingeniously, and to 


a large extent, practised by the guards of the Dover and 
other outport mails, some of whom realised a considerable 
fortune by it ; the value of a guinea on the Continent 
being 23s. 6d., and, at a later period, even reaching to 
28s. One of these speculative offenders against the law 
was detected through the very means by which he had 
hoped to realise an independence. In his anxiety to 
make an extensive exportation, he had over-estimated the 
strength of the mail to such a degree, that, in passing 
over Shooter' s-hill, it gave way beneath its heavy burden, 
and what appeared to be mail-bags filled with letters, 
turned out to be sacks of shining guineas. The money 
was forfeited and carried to the Mint, and the offender 
arrested and carried to the roundhouse, therein to moralise 
upon that beautiful old adage, ct There is many a slip 'tween 
the cup and the lip." 

We fear the contents of this chapter will be considered 
somewhat heterogeneous, but we could not find, after 
much cogitation, a more suitable place for these anec- 
dotes of the coinage than under the head of " Trade and 




THE retinue of men of rank in the last century, espe- 
cially during a journey, was lavish in the extreme ; albeit, 
the necessities of the time demanded a numerous attend- 
ance for divers reasons, which will be explained anon, but 
no members of a travelling gentleman's retinue could 
have had a more arduous duty to perform, or are more 
completely extinct as a class, than the running footmen. 
The duty of these servants, who were in fact avant- 
couriersj was to keep, with no other aid than their own 
legs, in advance of the cavalcade which was conveying 
their master from one of his country-seats to another, or 
perhaps upon a visit to a noble friend; and no doubt it 
must have given the appearance of great state to his 
" progress," to be not only attended by an escort of out- 
riders and horsemen, but preceded by two of these agile 
forerunners, to clear the way and announce the coming of 
their lord. 

Their livery in 1730 was " fine Holland drawers and 
waistcoats, thread stockings, a blue silk sash, fringed with 
silver, and a velvet cap, with a large tassel," and they 
usually carried in their hands " a huge porter's staff, with 
a silver handle;" or they were "dressed in white with 


black jockey-caps, and long staffs in their hands." This 
kind of attendance was a relic of the state of the pre- 
ceding century, and in Middleton's "Mad World, my 
Masters," one of the fraternity is greeted as a Linen Stock- 
ings and threescore miles a day;" but the erudite Mr. 
Jedediah Cleishbotham, in his very learned annotations 
to the " Bride of Lammermoor," testifies to the existence 
of running footmen at a much later period " I remember 
me to have seen one of this tribe clothed in white and 
bearing a staff, who ran daily before the state-coach of the 
umquhile John, Earl of Hopeton, father of this earl, 
Charles, that now is." 

But we cannot resist the temptation of transferring to 
our pages the graphic description of a cortege of this kind, 
from Sir Walter Scott's masterly romance, which called 
forth the reminiscence we have quoted from worthy Mr. 
Cleishbotham : 

" Two running footmen, dressed in white, with black 
jockey-caps, and long staffs in their hands, headed the 
train, and such was their agility that they found no diffi- 
culty in keeping the necessary advance which the 
etiquette of their station required before the carriage 
and horsemen. Onward they came, at a long swinging 
trot, arguing unwearied speed in their long-breathed 

calling." " Behind these glancing meteors, who 

footed it as if the avenger of blood had been behind them, 
came a cloud of dust, raised by riders who preceded, 
attended, or followed the state carriage of the marquis." 

Another picture of this defunct class has been dis- 
covered by Mr. Thorns, " in a volume of MS. notes of 
old plays, in the handwriting of the Rev. George Ashby, 
Rector of Borrow, in Suffolk, and Fellow of Trinity 
College, Cambridge," which dates about 1780, and which 


Mr. Thorns has duly deposited in that " Old Curiosity 
Shop" of literature, Notes and Queries : 

"The running footmen drank white wine and eggs. 
One told me, fifty years ago, that they carried some white 
wine in the large silver ball of their tall cane, or pole, 
which unscrews ; that they could easily keep ahead of the 
coach and six in uphill and down countries, but that in 
the plain they were glad to sign to the coachman with 

the pole to pull in, as they could not hold out 

Since the roads have been made good, the carriages and 
cattle lightened, we have little of them ; yet I remember 
he told us of vast performances, threescore miles a day, 

and seven miles an hour The last exploit of one 

of them that I recollect was, the late Duke of Marlborough 
drove his phaeton and four, for a wager, from London to 
Windsor against one, and just beat him, but the poor 
fellow died soon. No carriage could have done Powell's 
York journey. They wore no breeches, but a short silk 
petticoat, kept down by a deep gold fringe." 

Mr. Thorns adds that the late Duke of Queensbury 
was the last nobleman who kept running footmen in his 
retinue, and that he used to watch, from that celebra- 
ted balcony in Piccadilly, their paces before he engaged 

Another, now defunct, member of a nobleman's esta- 
blishment appears even, exceptionally, at the time we 
speak of, to have been the fool or jester. We see but 
little of him, it is true, during the last century, and, in 
truth, he appears then to have been "going out of 
fashion," but that he was one of its " curiosities," we 
know by Dean Swift's epitaph on the Earl of Suffolk's 

Whose name was Dicky Pearce. 


" In Scotland," Sir Walter Scott tells us, in his Notes 
to " Waverley," " the custom subsisted till late in the last 
century," but it had no doubt become extinct in England 
some time before. 

The scale of wages paid to domestic servants about the 
middle of the last century, may be gathered from some 
papers and records relating to one of the oldest baronial 
halls in England, bearing date 1756, and from which the 
following are selected : 

s. d. 
Head-man and park-keeper . . . .330 

Groom 220 

Under-man 2 12 6 

Housekeeper 200 

Cookmaid 110 

Chamber and dairymaid 126 

The footmen were a presuming class, asserting strange 
rights at Westminster Hall and monstrous privileges in 
the theatres, as we shall subsequently show; "but they 
were encouraged by a ridiculous statute which, up till 
1770, protected. the servants of peers from being arrested 
for debt during the sitting of parliament. 

So much for private and domestic servants, and house- 
hold retainers. Next let us glance at the public servants 
of the time, and especially the chairmen, shoeblacks, and 
linkbearers of London. 

Of these the chairmen claim priority of notice as the 
superior class. The people, ever jealous of the rights of 
man, when they saw, for the first time, a sedan-chair, and 
that chair occupied by Charles I.'s favourite, Bucking- 
ham, did not relish the idea of beings of their own 
species taking the work of horses ; but they soon grew 
accustomed to the sight, and during the whole of the last 
century the sedan was a favourite mode of conveyance to 



the drawing-room, the levee, the theatre, the assembly, 
the masquerade, and the private party. We now seldom 
see it, except in the streets of Bath, carrying some 
dowager to the assembly-room, or in the streets of Lon- 
don, in its dilapidation, bearing an invalid pauper to the 
workhouse. The cry of " Chair ! chair !" is superseded 
by that of "Cab! cab!" and horses take the place of 

But it was a busy crew that assembled without the 
theatre doors during the hours of performance, or around 
the palace gate while the king held his levee, or the queen 
her drawing-room. And, when the entertainments were 
over, forth would issue the fashionable crowd, and im- 
patient shouts of " Chair ! chair !" would echo on all sides. 
Then the chairmen would suspend their mirth or quarrels 
to hand their passengers into their respective chairs, and 
each grasping the projecting handles, and slinging the 
leathern band across his shoulders, trot off, bearing 
between them their living burden, and followed by the 
motley crowd of link-bearers or lackeys. 

Both in the ingress and egress of the passenger the 
top of the sedan was lifted up, to enable him to stand 
upright in it, and as soon as he was seated it was shut 
down, the front doors fastened, the blinds let down, or 
curtains drawn, and he was carried home in luxurious 

Some of these sedans were elegantly fitted up, but the 
charges were very moderate ; the terms generally being 
one shilling per hour, or a guinea for the week, which 
included the payment of the two bearers. These men 
were generally Irish, and were made useful as porters 
when not engaged in their regular calling. They were 
a thick-set, thick-legged race, and, either when com- 


peting for a fare or regaling themselves upon their earn- 
ings, were such a noisy, turbulent, riotous set, as fre- 
quently to cause a general commotion in the street, which 
the poor old watchmen and constables could not easily 
suppress. They were also very often playfully, or, as 
some thought, mischievously disposed, and would run 
the poles of their chair into the stomach of a passer-by, 
trample on his toes, force him into the road, or, as Swift's 
chairmen did, squeeze him against the wall. " The 
chairmen that carried me squeezed a great fellow against 
the wall, who wisely turned his back, and broke one of 
the side glasses in a thousand pieces/' Journal to Stella, 
February 10, 1710-11. 

The chairs kept by " people of quality" were trimmed 
and fitted up in a luxurious style. The Duchess of Marl- 
borough had one carried away by some daring thieves 
while she was at Lincoln's Inn chapel, which had damask 
curtains and crimson velvet cushions ; and the bearers 
were expensively caparisoned in cufTs, epaulettes, and 
laced hats. But the hackney-chairs were only furnished 
with cloth or leather seats, and white curtains. It is one 
of this inferior kind that is represented in Hogarth's 
Arrest for Debt" scene of "The Rake's Progress ;" and 
we are almost tempted to wonder, if we dared, why the 
artist did not represent, among the other acts of extrava- 
gance of the rake, the keeping of a private chair and 

The pleasures of this mode of riding through the streets 
are illustrated by Swift, in his description of the progress 
of a fop in rainy weather : 

Boxed in a chair, the beau impatient sits, 
While spouts run clattering o'er the roof by fits, 
And ever and anon r with frightful din 
The leather sounds he trembles from within ! 


Another public servant has vanished with the old and 
dilapidated pavements the shoeblack.* This functionary 
might be seen at the corners of streets with his little stock 
in trade a three-legged stool, a ball of blacking, and a 
brush. Gay, in his "Trivia," sends him forth to his 
calling with the following instructions: 

Go thrive ; at some frequented corner stand ; 

This brush I give thee grasp it in thy hand ; 

Temper the foot within this vase of oil, 

And let the little tripod aid the toil. 

On this methinks I see the walking crew 

At thy request support the miry shoe ; 

The foot grows black that was with dirt embrown'd, 

And in thy pocket jingling halfpence sound. 

He establishes himself accordingly at Charing-cross a 
very profitable station one would conceive : 

The youth straight chose his post, the labour ply'd, 
Where branching streets from Charing-cross divide, 
His treble voice resounds along the mews, 
And Whitehall echoes, " Clean your honour's shoes ?" 

The " stands" of these worthies were sometimes inheri- 
ted, sometimes purchased, from the last possessor, and 
they must have been of some value, for the shoeblack's 
gains at one time were not by any means inconsiderable 
when the pavements abounded in loose and broken 
stones, and the roadways in holes and quagmires, from 
which the lumbering vehicles dashed a mass of mud over 
the foot-passengers ; when crossing-sweepers were un- 
known, and the beau who was picking his way along 
the filthy pavements was subject to -be trodden upon or 
run against by the trotting and often mischievous chair- 

* This passage was written before the establishment of the Shoeblack 
Brigade ; but the Shoeblack of the last century was so totally different in 
all his characteristics, that it has not been thought necessary to erase it. 


men ; when many of the less important streets had no 
footpaths at all, and the water-spouts from the overhang- 
ing roofs made great puddles in those that had them 
but his gains were of course precarious, depending in a 
great measure on the state of the weather and the where- 
abouts of his station ; his earnings, however, have been 
estimated at not above eightpence or tenpence a day on 
the average of all but the first-rate stations. The shoe- 
blacks were generally cripples, whose infirmity prevented 
their adopting a more active pursuit. 

While the improvements in the cleansing of London 
took away the trade of the shoeblack, the improvement 
in its lighting banished his compeer, the linkbearer. This 
wretched class was composed of the very poorest of lads 
and men more generally the former ; and, half-clad^ 
with a smoking flambeau in hand, they would crowd 
around the theatre doors, and show you to your chair or 
carriage, or run by your side to your home for a half- 
penny. But Gay does-not give this unfortunate tribe a 
very good character, and insinuates that there was some- 
times an understanding between them and the street 

Though thou art tempted by the linkman's call, 
Yet trust him not along the lonely wall. 
In the midway he'll quench the flaming brand, 
And share the booty with the pilfering band. 

The torchbearers of the upper classes wore the livery of 
their employers, and were a kind of under-footmen, who 
attended the carriage on its return from the theatre or the 
rout, lighted the family from the vehicle up the steps, and 
then, as the carriage rumbled away to the stables, and the 
heavy hall-door slammed to, thrust the flambeau into the 


.iron extinguisher at the side of the gate, till it ceased to 
glare with its broad red light and choking smoke upon 
the night. 

In the midst of the dirt and darkness which called 
shoeblacks and linkbearers into requisition, another public 
servant rambled through the streets, or slumbered in his 
box the watchman and patrol. 

The Londoners of early times were content to sleep 
-under the protection of their trained bands ; then came 
the "marching watch," who were peripatetic lamps as 
well; then the watchmen, such as they existed even into 
the present century, were preferred ; and now we, more 
timid it may be than our grandsires, or having less im- 
plicit confidence in the strength and activity of decrepid 
watchmen, must needs be protected by day as well as 
night, and have our " districts" and " divisions" of 
policemen strong, sturdy, hardy young fellows, who 
can protect us if they have the will ; arid who, unlike the 
aged, weak, and Sleepy guardians of our grandfathers, 
have the prowess of youth and health to give effect to 
their staves and truncheons. 

The police of the -last century were certainly far from 
being an efficient or well-organised body. The infirm 
and decrepid, who were unable to work, and consequently 
compelled to apply to " the parish" for relief, were usually 
considered fit at least for watchmen, and watchmen they 
were accordingly made. A rattle, a staff, and a treble- 
caped great-coat were provided for them, and, with these 
insignia of their office the superannuated paupers were 
placed in a district, and on a certain " beat," to protect 
the lives and properties of the inhabitants. With a little 
wooden " box" against the wall, to shelter him from rain 


or storm (but in which he often snored away the greater 
portion of the night), and a lantern to light his path, the 
watchman tottered round his beat, announcing the hour 
as clearly as a husky cough of some ten years' standing 
would admit, and then retired to his box, to sleep until 
the revolution of another hour called him forth again. 

" Pa a ast ten o'clock, and a rai ny night !" "Past 
two o'clock, and a cloudy mo orning!" were the cries 
that occasionally aroused the citizen from his sleep, and 
enlightened him as to the hour and the state of the 
weather. But now and then there were more warlike 
sounds than these, and the springing of a rattle, or the 
feeble cries for "Help!" announced that a conflict was 
being carried on between the guardians of the night and 
some gang of desperate offenders. Of course, the bed- 
ensconced cit was not insane enough in such a state of 
things to think of " helping," but got out of bed 'forth- 
with, tried the bolts, double-locked the door, and returned 
to his couch, wondering who would -get the best of the 
affray. In these conflicts the " Charlies" (for it was one 
of the whims and fancies of the town to call them so) 
seldom came off scathless, and still more rarely victorious, 
till at length they refrained from interfering with any of 
the desperadoes who then infested London. 

But the greatest tormentors of the poor old watchmen 
were the mischief-loving " bloods" and " bucks," who 
frequently devoted an evening to their especial annoyance. 
" Let us go out and tease the Charlies," some wag would 
suggest, as the night advanced and the drinking-party 
began to dissolve. All were anxious for the fray ; and 
no sooner was the proposal made than forth would sally a 
little gang of the staggering bacchanals, intent upon 



amusement at the expense of the helpless watch. Occa- 
sionally a drowsy sentinel would be caught napping in 
his box, and forthwith the box was overturned ; or, still 
oftener, placed with its door against the wall, and the 
occupant left to get out of it when he awoke as best he 
could. At other times a loud cry of " Watch ! watch !" 
would be raised, sufficiently loud to arouse the neighbour- 
hood ; and, when the sleepy patrol came bustling up, out 
of breath and out of humour, he was coolly told to return 
to his box, and " sleep it out." But human patience has 
a limit, and even the watchmen would sometimes be 
goaded to revenge. Then heavy blows were dealt pro- 
miscuously ; and from the general affray, some such serious 
matters as a fractured skull or a broken arm might 

The inefficiency of the watchmen in anything but 
trifling street brawls (and even from these they were often 
obliged to make a precipitate retreat), and the absence of 
a day watch, and of a detective police, called into existence 
the body that became afterwards known as " Bow-street 
Runners" (but who first took the name of the magistrate 
to whose office they were attached, as " Justice Wright's 
people," " Sir John Fielding's people," &c.), and distin- 
guished by their activity, vigilance, and intelligence, as well 
as their basilisk influence over the thieves, who would sel- 
dom resist a capture or attempt a rescue, even when the 
officer went into their rendezvous, single-handed, to beckon 
out the man he " wanted" for a murder, street robbery, or 

But the " thief-takers," who preceded them, had only a 
kind of semi-official character. One, William Norton, 
who was examined in a case of highway robbery, when 


the Devizes coach was stopped near Hyde Park, on the 
3rd of June, 1752, was asked how he got his living. The 
reply was characteristic of the period : " I keep a shop in 
Wych-street, and sometimes I take a thief" 

But on the subject of " thief- takers" we may perhaps 
enter more fully in another chapter. 




THE eighteenth century produced many authors whose 
works have become standard. History was enriched by 
the writings of Hume, Carte, Gibbon, Lyttleton, and 
Robertson Philosophy and the Sciences, by Berkeley, 
Bradley, Hartley, Hunter, Adam Smith, Tooke, Black, 
Maskelyne, Porson, Herschel, Cavendish, and Playfair 
Poetry, by Rowe, Gay, Young, Pope, Ramsay, Thomson, 
Shenstone, Collins, Akenside, Gray, Chatterton, Darwin, 
Warton, Beattie, Macpherson, and Burns Romance, by 
Richardson, Fielding, and Smollett Dramatic Literature, 
by D'Urfey, Cumberland, the Colmans, the Gibbers, the 
Sheridans, Congreve, Vanbrugh, Farquhar, Stevens, and 
Home Theology, by Hoadley, Sherlock, Jortin, War- 
burton, Priestley, Law, Paley, and Price Jurisprudence, 
by Blackstone; whilst, under the general designation of 
Miscellaneous writers, by turns poets, dramatists, essayists, 
and romancists, we have the glorious names of Swift, De 
Foe, Addison, Steele, Hawksworth, Sterne, Johnson, 
Goldsmith, Bolingbroke, Middleton, Walpole, and Burke. 
This century also saw the birth of those beautiful and 
original compositions, which sprang up with the " Tatler," 
the " Spectator," and the " Guardian," and came out under 


the titles of the " Rambler," the Idler," the " Adven- 
turer," the " Bee," &c., till they formed a class of themselves, 
which have been justly named the " British Classics." 

And yet how miserably were authors requited ! Gold- 
smith's " Traveller" appears to have been sold for twenty 
guineas, and his " Vicar of Wakefield" only realised sixty 
guineas, which Dr. Johnson, having in view the scale of 
remuneration usually paid to authors at that time, says 
was " no mean price." But the price at which books were 
sold to the public was proportionately low the general 
charge for a four- volume novel being only twelve shillings, 
or twelve shillings and sixpence, and five or six shillings 
for two volumes. 

But we have forgotten ourselves. We are not writing 
the history of literature in the last century we have only 
to describe what were its most curious characteristics. 

The " getting up" of books was attended with many 
difficulties which the progress of art, science, and inven- 
tion has since removed, in the typographical, illustrative, 
and even binding departments. We seldom meet with a 
book published within the century which is not calf- 
bound, with a cumbrous but elaborately-gilt back, the 
title-page frequently printed alternately in red and black 
ink, with an allegorical copper-plate frontispiece, a long 
preface, and a fulsome dedication. 

Any one who has seen, or had the patience to read one 
of these dedications, would lament that so virtuous a 
generation should so completely have passed away, for 
we meet with none but accomplished dukes and intel- 
lectual earls, who are at once represented as the most 
generous, the most talented, and the most exemplary of 
mankind, ornaments of their species, and patterns for 
angels. But, in too many cases, the noblemen whose 


virtues were emblazoned in sucli glowing colours, were 
the most ignorant and conceited blockheads in the country, 
otherwise they would have discouraged such disgusting 
flatteries. How different from the sketch which Horace 
has handed down of his accomplished patron, the courtly 
Maecenas how different from the simple and unaffected 
testimony which Goldsmith bears to Dr. Smollett, is the 
following inflated dedication of the play of the " Modern 
Prophets," which is copied into No. 43 of the " Tatler." 
The author, D'Urfey, thus addresses his patron : " Your 
easiness of humour, or rather your harmonious disposition, 
is so admirably mixed with your composure, that the 
rugged cares and disturbance that public affairs bring 
with them, that does so vexatiously affect the heads of 
other great men of business, etc., does scarce ever ruffle 
your unclouded brow even with a frown. And that 
above all is praiseworthy, you are so far from thinking 
yourself higher than others, that a flourishing and opulent 
fortune which, by a certain natural corruption in its 
quality, seldom fails to affect other possessors with pride, 
seems in this case as if only providentially disposed to en- 
large your humility. But I find, sir, I am now got into 
a very large field, where, though I could, with great ease, 
raise a number of plants in relation to your merits of this 
plauditory nature, yet, for fear of an author's general vice, 
and lest the plain justice I have done you should, by my 
proceeding and others' mistaken judgment, be imagined 
flattery (a thing the bluntness of my nature does not care 
to be concerned with, and which I also know you abomi- 
nate)," &c., &c. To complete the absurdity of this string 
of compliments, it is only necessary to add that the person 
to whom they were addressed was an illiterate citizen, who, 
having amassed a considerable fortune, was enabled to retire 


from business, and, by its means, to purchase flattery, 
consideration, and ultimately knighthood ! Well might 
Steele say: "It is wonderful to see how many judges of 
these fine things spring up every day, in the rise of stocks, 
and other elegant methods of abridging the way to learn- 
ing and criticism !" The " Guardian," No. 4, on the same 
subject, says truly enough : " This prostitution of praise is 
not only a deceit upon the gross of mankind, who take 
their notion of character from the learned, but also the 
.better sort must by this means lose some part at least of 
that desire of fame which is the incentive to generous 
actions, when they find it promiscuously bestowed on the 
meritorious and undeserving." 

The origin of these dedications may be found in the 
previous century, when the author was compelled to pro- 
pitiate some man of eminence to introduce his book to the 
world. Booksellers being few, country agencies almost 
unknown, and the means of advertising scanty, there was 
great difficulty in ensuring the expenses even of publica- 
tion hence the mode of procuring a sale for a book was 
very different to what it is at present. A poet or author 
projected a work, issued the proposals, and, having to take 
upon himself the risk of printing, opened a list of sub- 
scribers previous to its commencement, and to head this 
list, and induce other subscribers to follow, he generally 
sought the favour of some high nobleman, or fashionable 
butterfly of the town who had somehow or other picked 
up a reputation as a man of taste. This practice, no 
doubt, partly led to the extravagance of the dedications. 
Then, again, a man of letters was in the last century, as 
a jester had been in the previous one, a sort of indispens- 
able attendant at the tables of the great if he had pub- 
lished but one dull book it was sufficient it was " fashion- 


able" to have one in your patronage : almost in dependence. 
He was to furnish his host with ready-made opinions upon 
all fashionable topics, to applaud every word, and laugh 
heartily at every abortion of a joke that fell from his lips; 
he was to laud him to the skies, and declare him at once 
the gentleman and the scholar, and, like a lap-dog, to sub- 
mit to the splenetic humours of the great man, when he 
chose to be out of temper, without complaining. And, 
whenever the poor, dependent author wrote a tragedy or 
a sermon, a novel or a history, he was expected to dedicate . 
it to his patron, and to inform him and, at the same 
time, the world at large that he was the very personifi- 
cation of virtue and excellence, and the beau-ideal of a 
man of taste. And oh ! the agonies of fear, apprehension^ 
and suspense that awaited the unhappy author, when, in 
order to make known his work and to swell his list of 
subscriptions, he sallied forth with both of them in his 
pocket to read his manuscript, by gracious invitation^ be- 
fore some party of would-be-thought cognoscenti of both 
sexes at his patron's house the half-suppressed sneers, the 
ironical applause, the drowsy inattention, the unseemly 
and ludicrous interruptions, the many conflicting sugges- 
tions of alteration ! 

And thus was the poor poet of the eighteenth century 
compelled to prostrate himself at the feet of some ignorant 
peer or clownish knight ; to subscribe himself his " most 
devoted slave to command," and to prostitute his talents 
to the degrading task of sketching an exemplary and 
angelic character to clothe a dissipated and vulgar patron 
in. He could not hope for success without patronage, and 
he could not purchase patronage without flattery. Even 
this abuse has not escaped the keen picture-satirist, Ho- 
garth; and in the second scene of the Rake's Progress we 


see a poem lying on the floor dedicated to the young rake, 
and an humble poet waiting in the obscure background 
for the honour of recognition. 

These dedications were introduced among a perfect 
blaze of italics and capitals, and, by dint of large type 
and a leading," were made to occupy pretty well a third 
of the volume, and to become the most conspicuous por- 
tion. They were also illustrated or embellished with 
cherubim, little fauns, and a hundred other devices, 
crowded into a coarsely-executed woodcut a parallelogram 
at the heading of the dedication, in which angels, satyrs, 
and fauns were flying about in the most glorious hurry 
and confusion, proclaiming with horns and trumpets the 
manifold virtues of the patron. We have before us an 
" Epistle to the Jews," in which this rectangular device 
contains a panoramic view of a city, all steeples, with a 
blank along the centre, probably to represent the river, 
a short squat monument, with a flame at the top bigger 
than itself, and a sun surrounded by a glory, encircling 
its fat face, like the hair standing on end, and with elabo- 
rated eyes, nose, and mouth, nicely poised on one of the 
steeples. Then the first letter of the first paragraph, the 
initial of the dedication, was to be found, lurking in a tree, 
or hiding behind a hedge, in a small square vignette 
now the most conspicuous object in a rural landscape, 
with a shepherd, perhaps, leaning against it for support 
now borne high among the clouds. And then, at the 
conclusion, came another rectangle, as full of angels, urns, 
armorial bearings, initials, scroll-work, and fancy designs 
as the first. 

But, returning to the authors : even the poet who en- 
joyed the highest patronage the poet laureate of the 
king was expected to wield a servile pen. On " His 


Majesty's Recovery," on "The New Year/' and on " His 
Majesty's Birthday," an ode must be written by the 
laureate, and set to music by the " Doctor 'of Music," 
who catered for the court, " to be performed before their 
majesties." Colley Gibber, Pye, and William Whitehead, 
were all marvellously fond of heroes, and, in their odes, 
successively beat each other in marvelling whether any 
of the heroes of antiquity could possibly have come near 
the king their master in courage, learning, or worth. 
"Caesar," "Augustus," and " Britannia's Lord," were the 
appellations most frequently conferred upon the king; 
and Gibber, in one of his odes, even went so far as to deno- 
minate him 

Lord supreme o'er all the earth. 

But the following " Recitative" of the Ode for the 
King's Birthday," in 1756, written by Gibber, and set to 
music by Dr. Boyce, may be taken as a pretty fair sam- 
ple of these effusions : 

When Caesar's natal day 

Demands our annual lay, 
What empire of the earth explored 

Can hope to raise 

A pyramid of praise 
Superior to Britannia's Lord? 

And here is the " Air" of another of Gibber's odes : 

In Eome, when fam'd Augustus lived, 

Had then the lyrist of his praise 
To this more godlike reign survived, 

What glories now had graced his lays ! 

In the "Ode on the New Year," 1757, the same poet 
repeats himself thus : 


Air Had the lyrist of old 

Had our Caesar to sing, 
More rapid his raptures had roll'd 
But never had Greece such a king. 

Chorus No, never had Greece such a king ! 

George II. lias been characterised as deficient in taste, 
but he certainly displayed some judgment in using the 
expression which is imputed to him, if he bore in mind 
these fulsome odes, when he exclaimed, in his bad 
English : 

" D the bainters and the boets too !" 

Pye does not appear to have been so bad as the other 
laureates. His " Ode for the King?s Birthday/' in 1789, 
composed immediately after the recovery of George III. 
from the first attack of that illness which subsequently 
gave occasion for a regency, was most exulting, but we 
had nothing about Caesar in it : 

In the royal sufferer's smart 
Each beholder bore a part ; 
Rumour gave th' afflicting tale 
In sighings to the passing gale, 
That bosoms never wont to sigh 
Were clogged with speechless agony. 
When royal bosoms teem with woe, 
When royal eyes with tears o'erflow, 
Can the private heart refrain 
Mingling in this mighty pain ? 
Contagious grief, in that affecting hour 
How wide, how gen'ral was thy power I 
Sad was each gesture every step was slow, 
Silent each tongue, and every look was woe ; 
The supplicating eye presumed alone, 
To beg compassion at the Heavenly Throne. 

Making every allowance for poetic licence, it must be ad- 
mitted that all this was gross exaggeration, or enthusiasm 
run mad. Sympathise with the royal sufferer and his 
afflicted family no doubt every one of feeling did, but one 
would think, from Mr. Pye's verses, that the whole nation 



was bowed down with the most intense grief, and com- 
pletely unfitted for its ordinary e very-day avocations. As 
a lady of the court said to a jealous rival, who had called 
her by a name we do not choose to repeat, although a 
lady of the family name is now lying on our slipper, 
" Your language is very figurative." Very figurative, 
indeed, Mr. Pye ! 

These birthday odes were performed before the king 
by his band and choir, and were regularly reported in 
the papers of the following day. After going the round 
of the periodical press of the country, they were con- 
signed to the oblivion to which they were only suited, and 
the laureate's absurdities about " Caesar's gentle sway," 
and " England's godlike king," were forgotten by the few 
who had waded, half dreaming, through their unmeaning 
and insipid length, before the page which contained them 
was fairly passed. 

Another class of' literary absurdities with which our 
periodicals were filled, were the "Eastern tales" and 
" Oriental fables," which were vamped up by any writer 
who could collect a sufficient number of Asiatic proper 
names, and talk about sultans, genii, diamonds, precious 
silks, and Bagdad, after the manner of the "Arabian 
Nights." The Eastern tales of the " Adventurer" were 
copied, and increased and multiplied to such an extent, 
that Goldsmith was obliged to take the nuisance in hand, 
and deal severely with it in the " Citizen of the World." 
Then there were tales of English life, all " founded on 
fact, and embellished with an elegant copper-plate engrav- 
ing," in most of the magazines mathematical problems 
in some odes, acrostics, prologues, and epilogues the 
unblushing scandals of intrigue and amours distinguishing 
the Town and Country Magazine an " Historical Eegis- 


ter of Foreign and Domestic Intelligence" " News from 
the Plantations in America" births, marriages, and 
deaths promotions in the army and navy ecclesiastical 

preferments " Persons declared B pts" prices of the 

funds and market reports lists of the month's perfor- 
mances at the theatres and, in fact, all the features of a 
newspaper. The Universal Magazine supported its right 
to the title it had assumed by " combining news, letters, 
debates, poetry, music, biography, history, geography, 
voyages, criticism, translations, philosophy, mathematicks, 
husbandry, gardening, cookery, chymistry, mechanicks, 
trade, navigation, architecture, and other arts and sciences, 
which may render it instructive and entertaining to 
gentry, merchants, farmers, and tradesmen ; to which occa- 
sionally will be added an impartial account of books in 
several languages, and of the state of learning in Europe ; 
also of the stage, new operas, plays, and oratorios." 

Literary coteries were formed at the several coffee- 
houses in "fcoUcTon. " Button's," which was famed for the 
lion's mouth letter-box, in which communications for the 
" Spectator " were to be dropped ; the " Grecian," from 
which the literary article of the " Tatler " was dated ; and 
" John's," were the most favourite resorts of the wits in the 
early part of the century, the " Saint James's" at a later 
period of it, and " Dolly's Chop-house," in Paternoster-row, 
towards its close. The publishers had begun to emigrate 
from Old London Bridge, on which most of the book- 
sellers' shops had exhibited their huge signs, such as the 
"Looking-glass," the "Black Boy," and the "Three 
Bibles " (which were the last, we believe, to quit the old 
bridge), and were now located in Paternoster-row, Saint 
Paul's Churchyard, and Little Britain. One (Dodsley) 
actually got so far west as Pall-mall, and some hovered 



" over against Saint Dunstan's Church, in Fleet-street," 
but the majority of them still clung to Saint Paul's and 
its neighbourhood. 

During the latter end of the century, their shops 
afforded a nucleus for the wits and literary spirits of the 
age. Thomas Davies, who had taken his part on the 
stage in tragedy, and who was described by Churchill in 
the " Rosciad" as 

Statesman all over, in plots famous grown, 
He mouths a sentence as curs mouth a bone, 

(more completely immortalised in these lines than by his 
own "Life of Garrick"), kept a bookseller's shop in 
Russell-street, Covent-garden. Hither resorted Johnson 
and his shadow, Boswell, Goldsmith, Churchill, Foote, 
Bennett Langton, George Stevens, Dr. Percy (of ancient 
ballad fame), Robert Dodsley (the collector of contem- 
porary poetry), and Warburton ; and scandal says Davies's 
pretty wife was the original attraction, Johnson's society 
the second. Churchill corroborates the delicate sus- 
picion : 

With him came mighty Davies ; on my life ! 
That fellow has a very pretty wife. 

Alexander Stephens mentions, of a later time, Almon's 
shop as being the resort of Fox, Norfolk, Wilkes, Burke, 
Barre, and others ; and Debrett's as frequented by John 
Nicholls, David Williams, the Rev. Mr. Este, Major 
Cartwright, and other minor celebrities, who on Debrett's 
failure, were compelled to remove their conversaziones to 
Ridgway's, in Piccadilly. But we are now crossing the 
threshold of the nineteenth century, and coming to the 
days of Murray. Let us step back within our prescribed 


Anonymous writing was much in vogue among the 
authors of the last century or rather, perhaps, we should 
say, writing under assumed appellations. The severity 
with which the law of libel was put in force and stretched 
even beyond the letter of the law, in order to reach some 
obnoxious partisan writer, was doubtless one inducement 
for the concealment of real names in print, but the works 
of Addison, Steele, and Cave, required no screen of this 
sort. Yet the " Tatler " appeared as the production of 
" Isaac Bickerstaff," the " Guardian " as that of " Nestor 
Ironside," and the Gentleman's Magazine was edited by 
" Sylvanus Urban, Gent." a fiction which is still kept 
up. Political writers, with better, or at least more ob- 
vious reasons, sheltered themselves under fanciful signa- 
tures, as Bolingbroke wrote for the Craftsman as 
" Humphrey Oldcastle." The celebrated strictures upon 
the Government on its conduct in the issue of Wood's 
Irish halfpence, although written by Dean Swift, were 
signed " M. B., Drapier in Dublin," and have ever since 
gone by the name of " The Drapier's Letters." The im- 
mense popularity of these letters, which were hawked 
about the streets at a penny each, and even posted up in 
taverns and public rooms, gave an alarming importance to 
the subject, and procured the desired result the recal of 
Wood's patent a result which led to the canonisation of 
Swift as a patriot, on grounds which appear to us less de- 
serving of it than many of his previous exertions for the 
people and the country. Fielding conducted t\iQjCownt 
Garden Journal under the name of " Sir Alexander 
Drawcanzir," and the Jacobites Journal as " John Trott- 
plaid ;" and Horace Walpole brought out his " Castle of 
Otranto" as a translation by " William Marshall," from 
the Italian; Defoe's "Treatise on Spirits" came forth as 


the work of " John Beaumont, Esq.," and his " Essay on 
Apparitions" under the name of " Morton;" but prosecu- 
tion, if not persecution, made this gifted writer shy of 
appearing in proprid persona, and he frequently concealed 
himself behind the mask of an assumed name. Then 
came great " Junius," the most mysterious political writer 
that ever assailed a government, and whose secret, most 
probably, despite all that has been conjectured, and the 
hundreds of pamphlets written upon it, died with his 
courageous publisher, Woodfall. " Peter Pindar," after- 
wards avowed as Dr. Walcott, next attracted attention by 
his bitter satires of the sovereign; often objectionable 
even spiteful witty and searching at the best. Even the 
newspapers came out under fictitious authorship ; the Old 
Westminster Journal was edited " by Simon Gentletouch, 
of Pall-mall, Esquire," the Craftsman by " Caleb D' An- 
vers " (Amherst); and in fact the brains were racked for 
distinctive signatures, some presenting curious alliterations, 
others indicative of the quality or pretensions of the writer. 
This practice, and the manners of the times, scarcely purged 
of the licentiousness of a previous age, afforded authors a 
latitude which would now be considered gross indecency 
a latitude of which Swift, Sterne, Fielding, Smollett, and 
Richardson alike availed themselves, and the dramatists 
were allowed to exercise to its fullest extent, and push to 
its very furthest limit. 

We are now come to the newsgagejs of the eighteenth 
century, which might almost be looked upon as being in 
their infancy, seeing that no regular newspaper made its 
appearance until 1621. The press, however, travelled 
quickly, and the newspapers of the time were by no means 
such contemptible productions as they have been repre- 
sented. It is with us a question whether the Stamp Act 


of 1712 did not aid them in their progress, and elevate 
their character. Previously to that date they had been 
nothing more than pamphlets, presenting sometimes only 
a single topic of news " halfpenny posts," and " farthing 
posts/' The imposition of a halfpenny stamp raised their 
price, and made people look for more for their money, 
causing the writers to take more pains in their compila- 
tion, and introducing a better class of editors and pub- 
lishers, and more information, put together in a better 
form. Such men as Swift, De Foe, Dr. Johnson, Prior, 
Addison, Steele, Fielding, and Hawkesworth, became 
connected with newspaper literature, and the tone of the 
public press began manifestly to improve. It was in the 
eighteenth century that the newspaper became something 
more than a pamphlet of news, and grew into an organ of 
public opinion. We must bear in mind the rigid enforce- 
ment of the law of libel which was common in this century 
the prirnitiveness which still hung about the process of 
printing : the rust of the chains which had prevented the 
spread of learning and the great difficulties of communi- 
cation between parts now not a day's journey distant, 
before we condemn the newspaper of the eighteenth cen- 
tury, or put it in comparison with that of the nineteenth. 
Intelligence, too, had not spread among the masses ; and 
although there was, as Addison and Goldsmith have both 
remarked, a great appetite for news among the public, 
there was not so much anxiety for information. 

Having duly taken these things into account, we may 
now glance at the newspapers of the time, and form a 
correct judgment of their merits. Reports of debates in 
parliament were unknown until Edward Cave, the founder 
of the Gentleman's Magazine a name which deserves to 
be held illustrious as the " kind Maecenas" of Dr. Johnson 


contrived to procure the substance of them for publica- 
tion in his magazine. His mode of proceeding, according 
to Sir John Hawkins, was to procure admission for him- 
self and a friend or two into the gallery of the House of 
Commons, or some obscure corner of the House of Lords, 
and there privately take down notes of the speakers' 
names, and the general tendencies of their arguments, 
then retire to a neighbouring tavern to compare and ad- 
just their notes, so that, with the aid of their memories, 
they were enabled to give a tolerably correct report of 
the substance of the debates. These reports were tacitly 
sanctioned for nearly two years, when the House of Com- 
mons passed a resolution showing how little its members 
relished their constituents being enlightened as to their 
doings : 

"April 13, 1738. Resolved, that it is an high indig- 
nity to, and notorious breach of the privileges of, this 
House, for any newswriter, in letters or other papers, in 
minutes, or under any other denomination, or for any 
printer or any publisher of any printed newspaper of any 
denomination, to presume to insert, in the said letters or 
papers, or to give therein any account of the debates or 
other proceedings of this House, or any Committee 
thereof, as well during the recess as the sitting in Parlia- 
ment; and that this House will proceed with the utmost 
severity against any and all such offenders." 

But the fertile brain of Cave was not to be baulked in 
this design by any threat of pains and penalties, but in- 
vented an ingenious scheme for continuing his reports; 
and, in June, 1738, first appeared, in the Historical 
Chronicle, forming a supplement to his magazine, "An 
Appendix to Captain Lemuel Gulliver's Account of the 
famous Empire of Lilliput," headed " Debates in the 


Senate of Great Lilliput." "Blefuscu" represented 
France. The Dukes were " Nardacs," the Lords " Hur- 
goes," and the Commoners " Clinabs ;" the letters in their 
respective names being slightly transposed or disarranged, 
as, "the Nardac Befdort " (Duke of Bedford), "the 
Hurgo Toblat" (Lord Talbot), Sir Rob. Wallilup" (Wai- 
pole), "Lettyltno" (Lyttelton), "Brustath" (Bathurst), 
" Feaukes" (Fox), " Ooyn" (Wynn), &c. &c. Guthrie, 
the historian, arranged these debates for Cave; but, in 
1 740, Dr. Johnson, who had associated himself with Cave, 
undertook the reporting. Mr. Nicholls says that Johnson 
himself told him that he used only to "fix upon a 
speaker's name, then to make an argument for him and 
conjure up an answer;" but he deeply repented of the 
fraud before he died. Dr. Hawkesworth succeeded John- 
son, and on April 3, 1747, Cave, as well as Astley of the 
London Magazine, were ordered into the custody of the 
Usher of the Black Rod, " complaint having been made 
against them for printing in their respective magazines an 
account of the trial of Simon Lord Lovat." After several 
harassing examinations, they received a reprimand and 
were discharged from custody, on paying the fees, " beg- 
ging pardon of the House, and promising never to offend 
in like manner again." 

Cave's enterprising spirit would not bear the curb, and 
in 1752 he again published his parliamentary debates, 
though in a conciser form, and in the shape of a letter 
prefaced by the following noble rebuke : " The following 

heads of speeches in the H of C were given me 

by a gentleman, who is of opinion that members of par- 
liament are accountable to their constituents for what they 
say as well as what they do in their legislative capacity ; 
that no honest fhan who is entrusted with the liberties and 


purses of the people will ever be unwilling to have his 
whole conduct laid before those who so entrusted him 
without disguise that, if every gentleman acted upon 
this just, this honourable, this constitutional principle, the 
electors themselves only would be to blame if they re- 
elected a person guilty of a breach of so important a trust.". 

Some years afterwards we find the debates reported as 
"Proceedings in the two Political Club-rooms," when 
the speakers were dubbed with the names of the ancient 
Romans, as " Marcus Cato," for the Earl of Bath; " Caius 
Claudius Nero," for the Earl of Winchelsea; " Cn. Falo- 
rius," for Fox ; and "Julius Floras" for Pitt a key to 
the names being given during the recess of the parlia- 

Up to the year 1782 the names of the speakers were 
still expressed by the initials, or the first and last letters, 
with a dash, or a sufficient number of asterisks to denote 
the other letters. It was amusing enough to find P. 
Ventidius, Q. Maximus, M. Cato, Cn. Domitius Calvinus, 
and A. Posthumius resuscitated in the London Magazine 
of 1 750, and engaged in a debate on the English Mutiny 
Bill; but when we find, some years afterwards, Mr. B***e 
resisting a motion before the House for immediately arrest- 
ing the printers who have dared to publish its proceedings, 
we think he was worthy of a better fate, and that so noble 
a champion of a popular and constitutional right ought 
to have his name emblazoned in full as EDMUND BURKE. 




WHILST the House of Commons struggled for its trum- 
pery privilege through the greater part of the century, the 
law courts held over the Press their law of libel, with pil- 
lories, fines, imprisonments, and other punishments in case 
of an infringement of it. The distracted publishers were 
then compelled to allude to the king only as " a certain 
illustrious personage," or " a great person of state ;" and, on 
the 26th June, 1 790, the printer of the Dublin Morning 
Post stood in the pillory on College-green for copying a 
paragraph from the London papers which stated that 

" The was formerly a very domestic woman, but 

now gives up too much of her time to politics." Nay, 

even the lists of bankrupts are simply headed " B pts," 

lest the full expression of the term might give offence. 

It is curious to observe the love of scandal struggling 
with the fear of prosecution. Here is an extract from the 
Political Register of May, 1758, reflecting on the Duke 
of Grafton's connexion with Nancy Parsons, which will 
convey an idea of the appearance of newspapers while 
under these restrictions : 

" Towards the close of the last session, the F 1 

L d of the T y was missing. In a day or two it 


came out that his G e was gone down to the sea-coast 

with Miss N y P s, to attend her on board a 

vessel for France. About the end of March an express 
arrived at Dover, ordering one of the packets to be got 

ready for the confidential S y of the T y. He 

came in the evening, and embarked for Calais. Various 
were the speculations of the people of Dover on the pur- 
port of this embassy at such a busy time. Lo ! the S y 

returned with his errand, Miss N y P s in his 

hand. On Wednesday, the 14th of April, his G e 

attended Mrs. H n, commonly called Miss N y 

P s, to Ranelagh, and the Saturday following he in- 
troduced her to the Opera, and sat behind her in waiting. 

.... It is only the prerogative of a F 1 M r to 

appear with his mistress in public, and to show her more 
respect than he ever showed his wife." 

In the November number of the same publication is a 
dialogue between the duke and an imaginary admirer, 
which exhibits the same features : 

" Q. Who made you P e M r? 

" A. Some little assurance, and a great deal of b gh 

interest." And so on. 

Having shown why the newspapers of the last century 
ought not in fairness to be compared with those of the 
present, we will point out in what respects they were de- 
ficient. In the first place, in point of size, they were not 
more than an eighth of that of the double Times in the 
early part of the century; and even in 1777, Lloyd's 
Evening Post was no larger, but most of the other papers 
of that period had grown to about a quarter of the usual 
size of the present daily papers. The paper was of a 
coarser texture, and the type larger; but it is of the con- 
tents we now propose giving a specimen or two. In the 


news department we might frequently find paragraphs 
worded similarly to the following, or of as much import : 

" Last Tuesday night, as two old foolish watchmen, in 
Sugarloaf- court, Leadenhall-street, were sporting with 
each other, one unluckily struck the other a blow in the 
eye with his staff, which occasioned it to bleed in a shock- 
ing manner! No fools like the old fools." Westminster 
Journal, April 22, 1775. 

" We hear there is likely to be the greatest opposi- 
tion ever known in the memory of man for the choice 
of churchwardens for the parish of St. Peter in Corn- 
hill." Ibid. 

The tone in which discussions were sometimes carried 
on between papers in rival interests, may be fairly illus- 
trated by an extract from the controversy on the Bank 
Contract for circulating the South Sea Company's bonds. 
We must premise that Caleb D' Anvers, of the Craftsman, 
was opposed to the contract, and that Francis Walsing- 
ham, of the Daily Gazetteer, and " Mr. Osborn" (an as- 
sumed name), who formerly wrote the London Journal, 
but had incorporated his paper with the Gazetteer, were 
its advocates. We must also add that the editorial style 
was generally the singular number, and that rival editors 
addressed each other personally 'and by name, which 
would now be considered a breach of etiquette. The 
Craftsman, then, of August the 23rd, 1735, heads its 
article thus: 

" Remarks upon Mother Osborn's account of the Bank 

And commences in this strain : 

* Fast by, like Niobe, her children gone, 
Sits Mother Osborn, stupified to stone. 

Pope's " Dunciad," added to Canto II., after 1738. 


" About two years ago this feminine dotard, through 
the promptings of her ignorance, with the assistance of 
her venality, was led into an avowal of doctrines that were 
perfectly infamous." 

And on the 6th of September the same paper not a 
scurrilous publication, but the organ of a respectable party 
alludes to the editor of the Gazetteer as " that low tool, 
Walsingham" "a contemptible fellow, who is retained 
on purpose to assert falsehoods, and will either disavow or 
persist in them just as you" (Sir Robert Walpole) "are 
pleased to direct and pay him for it." On September 
the 10th, the editors of the Daily Gazetteer reply on the 
part of Walpole, denouncing " the authors of the Crafts- 
man" as u grovelling, abandoned, and despicable imple- 
ments of slander;" and in the same paper of the 30th of 
August, Osborn had replied to the Craftsman's attacks 
upon him in the following elegant and dignified manner : 

" Whereas a certain tall, impudent A y* (eminently 

distinguished by his villanies in all parts of life), who 
suborned evidences to hang his benefactor that gave him 
bread when he was not able to purchase it, and was told 
in open court by Lord Chief Justice Raymond, in my 
hearing, that he and his confederates would have been 
hanged in any other country, is again admitted to be one 
of the writers of the Craftsman, and has last week thrown 
together a parcel of Billingsgate words about Mr. Osborn." 

This intemperate language was not confined to the two 
journals in question, for Fog's Journal of July the 19th, 
in the same year, in a parody on an address of Walsing- 
ham' s, makes him to say, a We never had any regard to 
truth," that he " was hired," " trimmed in laced livery," 
and so on. And all this storm was about a simple ques- 

* Attorney. 


tion of the privileges of the Bank ! But it will serve to 
show how high party feeling ran at the time, and how it 
washed before it all considerations of propriety, delicacy, 
or gentlemanly feeling. Well . might Pulteney write 
(1731), "There has been more Billingsgate stuff uttered 
from the press within these two months than ever was 
known before." But even then it had not arrived at its 

We question whether any papers of the present day 
would venture, or condescend to allow themselves such 
latitude as the journalists of the eighteenth century some- 
times allowed themselves in speaking of the ministers of 
the day. We select a few choice specimens: 

" A correspondent observes that the trading part of this 
nation have great reason to be alarmed at the dismal pros- 
pect of the approaching ruin of this once flourishing nation. 
We who once gave laws to all other kingdoms and powers 
are now become the scorn of all the world, and it must be 
so while such men such wretches as Jemmy Twitcher,* a 
despicable but arbitrary junto, preside over us ! A change 
of men and a change of measures oh, how devoutly to 
be wished for by every lover of religion, trade, and 
liberty!" Old British Spy, May 22nd, 1779. 

" A constant reader asks if that kingdom must not 
become very despicable where land admirals are em- 
ployed to conduct the navy? where trade and commerce 
are neglected? where religion and virtue are despised? 
where a prince, obstinate and self-conceited, spends his 
hours in looking into watches, making of buttons, and 
playing with ivory toys ; whilst the sound of the trumpet 
and the alarm of war strikes every thinking man with 

* The Earl of Sandwich, Secretary of State. 


astonishment and dismay, none knowing where, when 
destruction and infatuation begin, they will end." Ibid. 

"A lover of morality recommends it to all sorts of 
people to be righteously, soberly, and godly during the 
approaching holidays, commonly called Whitsuntide. 
As our adorable Creator causes his rain to descend and 
his sun to shine upon us, filling our hearts with food and 
gladness, let not the blasphemous oath, the obscene jest, 
nor drunkenness and fornication, which ought not to be 
known among Christians, be heard or seen amongst us. 
So shall righteousness exalt our nation, which now groans 
under the decay of trade, the load of taxes, the prospect 
of 'a bloody, tedious, and expensive war with our Pro- 
testant brethren in America and our Popish enemies in 
France and Spain." Ibid. 

" A correspondent asks, if parliament should pass a vote 
for distributing the widows and orphans' money entrusted 
to the Lord Chancellor, towards the support of Britons, 
to embrue their hands and swords in American blood, 
good God ! what will become of our stocks and funds ? 
Do not men of genius and calculation already fear that 
our Three per Cents, will be worth no more than fifty 
pounds for an hundred? Forbid it, good Lord! that ever 
England should be so reduced that the widows and 
orphans' money, like their tears, should be expended and 
applied to serve the vile purposes of such men as Jemmy 
Twitcher, Sir Hugh Paleface, drunken Rigdum, &c. &c. 
On the contrary, God grant we may see such golden days 
as when Cumberland, Richmond, Rockingham, and Kep- 
pel may have the guide and lead of our Treasury, our 
army and navy !" Old British Spy, Feb. 20, 1779. 

" A correspondent observes that, since the days of the 
great Sir Walter Rawley, perhaps no man has received so 


much deserved applause as the magnanimous Admiral 
Keppel : an ornament to society, a real friend to his king 
and country. May those venal ministers,* who have long 
made the hungry curse their birth, be driven from before 
the throne; and may England once more see a virtuous 
ministry restored, that our king may reign the happy 
ruler of a free, loyal, and trading nation." Ibid. 

Enough of this ribaldry ! We have quoted sufficient 
to show that argument was a weapon unknown to our 
newspaper controvertists mere vituperation: the foul 
vapour from their venomed mouths was all they had to 
make an attack with. 

Now for a specimen of a political article, not communi- 
cated, at a time when " leading articles" were unknown. 
It is perfectly terrific in its display of italics and capi- 
tals : 

" The French, it seems, despairing of carrying their 
Point by Insinuations, have recurred to their old Method 
of Threatening, and, by their proper Herald, the Amster- 
dam Gazette, menace us with Fishing. Barks, flat-bottom' d 
Boats, Troops on the Coast, or, in their own Phrase, 
nothing less than a Descent upon England. In this Situ- 
ation, the first Thing to be done is to enquire into the 
State of our MILITIA, more especially in the Maritime 
Counties, and, if there be any in which the MILITIA is 
not raised pursuant to the Laws for that Purpose, to 
enquire strictly into the Cause ; in which we presume 
that we point at nothing but what is just, and that Statutes 
are made to be obeyed, as the Excise and Customs are 
levied in one County as well as in another." London 
Evening Post, February 6th, 1759. 

* The Grenville Administration. 


Here is emphasis here are irony and sarcasm, lurking, 
like daggers, behind an Italian cloak! But all these 
italics might have been spared, and a scrap of rhyme, 
with very little trouble, would have expressed as much 
in fact, the words almost resolve themselves into it : 

If the militia's not raised pursuant to the laws, 
The first thing to be done is to inquire the cause : 
It is nothing but just, for statutes are made 
For the purpose } we think to be duly obey'd. 

In the advertisement department, we have all sorts of 
extraordinary announcements, from the chandler's, who 
(in one of the Norwich papers in 1723) wants a journey- 
man " that has had the small-pox," to the notice of a horse 
being stolen (in the same paper), with a coarse represen- 
tation of the thief riding the horse to the gallows with the 
devil in pursuit. The proprietors seem to have had no 
idea of making this department a large source of revenue ; 
for, during the general election of 1774, some of the 
papers actually announce that they must decline inserting 
the separate addresses of the candidates, and merely give 
a list of their names, as, if they published all the adver- 
tisements in full, they would encroach too much upon the 
news department, due to their readers ! They had no idea 
then of colossal supplements, double numbers, or of realis- 
ing a large revenue from advertisements alone. Verily, 
they were the men who would not make hay when the 
sun shone ! 

Such, at this time, was the difficulty in procuring news, 
even sufficient to fill these diminutive sheets, that, as late 
as 1752, the editor of the Leicester Journal was compelled 
to fill up his columns with a reprint of the Bible, which 
he continued weekly the said Leicester Journal being, 


by the way, then printed in London, and sent down (as 
were others of the same period, in the absence of local 
printing-presses) to the place of which it purported to be 
the chronicle for publication ! 

Another "curiosity" in newspaper antiquities was the 
News Letter, which was introduced by Ichabod Dawks in 
the latter part of the seventeenth century, and which con- 
sisted of the news of the week, with a blank fly-sheet 
attached, "so that any gentleman may write his own 
private business." The News Letters of Mr. Dawks 
and of Mr. Dyer are playfully alluded to by the " Spec- 

Some singular announcements of the prices of news- 
papers claim our attention before closing this subject. In 
1706, the price of the Norwich, Postman, then "printed 
for S. Sheffield, by T. Goddard, bookseller, Norwich," in 
a small quarto sheet, was stated as " charge, one halfpenny 
but a penny not refused;" and in 1723, the proprietor 
of the Norwich Gazette, or Henry Crossgrove's News, 
thus announced a rise in the price of his journal: "This 
is to inform my friends that on Saturday next this news- 
paper will be sold at a penny, and continue at that price. 
The reason of my raising to a penny is, because I cannot 
afford to sell it under any longer, and I hope none of my 
customers will think it dear at a penny, since they shall 
always have the first intelligence, besides other diversions." 
This amusing notice is sufficiently candid, but we opine 
that the public of the present day would require a more 
detailed explanation. 

We have, perhaps, extended this chapter to an undue 
length by devoting too much space to one particular 
branch of the subject, but newspaper history at this 



period is full of curiosities, and we will close it with one 
of the most unique of them all the opening prospectus of 
the Salisbury Postman, in 1715: 

" The Salisbury Postman, or Pacquet of Intelligence 
from France, Spaine, Portugal, &c., Saturday, September 
27th, 1715. No. 1. 

" *^* This paper contains an abstract of the most mate- 
rial occurrences of the whole week, foreign and domestick, 
and will be continued every post, provided a sufficient 
number will subscribe for its encouragement. 

" If two hundred subscribe, it shall be delivered to any 
private or publick-house in town every Monday, Thursday, 
and Saturday morning by eight of the clock during the 
winter season, and by six in the summer, for three half- 
pence each. 

" Any person in the countrie may order it by the post- 
coach, carriers, or market people, to whom they shall be 
carefully delivered. 

" It shall be always printed in a sheet and a half, and 
on as good paper; but this, containing the whole week's 
news, can't be afforded under twopence. 

"NOTE. For encouragement of all those that may 
have occasion to enter advertisements, this paper will be 
made publick in every market town, forty miles distant 
from this city, and several will be sent as far as Exeter. 

" Besides the news, we perform all other matters belong- 
ing to our art and mystery, whether in Latin, Greek, 
Hebrew, algebra, mathematicks, &c. 

" Printed by Samuel Farley, at his office, adjoyning to 
Mr. Robert Silcock's, on the ditch in Sarum, anno 1715." 

This voluminous title occupied two pages out of the 
two sheets of small folio of which this first number of the 
paper was composed. Part of the intelligence appears to 


be taken from the London papers, but one portion is de- 
clared to be " all from the written letter." An ingenious 
correspondent of one of the London magazines has made 
the following calculation of the income of a paper of this 
description : 

" The entire income of the paper, to meet every ex- 
pense, including its delivery to subscribers no trifling 
matter, we may infer, in the then imperfect state of the 
post-office deliveries, and which must have rendered 
special messengers indispensable to its circulation the 
entire income amounted to no more than twenty-five 
shillings each number, or three pounds fifteen shillings per 

How insignificant a figure must the provincial press 
have made in those days, taking it at this estimate ! How 
humble must have been its workers how cramped its 
means of gaining or of giving information ! 




THE satire of Hogarth upon the taste of the age in 
which we find the world of fashion crowding to masque- 
rades and conjurers' exhibitions, while the works of 
Shakspeare, Jonson, and the standard dramatists are being 
vended as waste-paper, was, no doubt, to a great extent, 
provoked; but it must be admitted that the legitimate 
drama had its palmy days in the eighteenth century. 
Never had it had such an interpreter as Garrick, Betterton, 
Foote, Quin, Rich, Kemble how do names of various 
eminence and degrees of talent, but all of note, crowd 
upon us when we speak of the stage of which our grand- 
fathers speak so highly, and with so much disparagement 
of that of our own day ! Truly they must be admitted 
to have some degree of truth on their side, if they have 
a good deal of prejudice. 

But we are enabled to find one fault from which our 
stage now-a-days is pretty well -free. The managers, per- 
haps, thinking the talent of their actors must excuse every 
negligence on their part, bestowed very little care in 
several details upon the manner in which their pieces were 
put upon the stage. This was more particularly observ- 
able in the inconsistency of costume which was displayed : 


national distinctions were disregarded, and all kinds of 
discrepancies, incongruities, and anomalies perpetrated, 
the heroes of previous centuries appearing in the discarded 
court-dresses of the nobility of the eighteenth. Cato, for 
instance, was represented " in a long wig, flowered gown, 
and lackered chair" Macbeth was dressed in the style of 
the reigning monarch and Hamlet was just such a prince * 
as might be seen in St. James's. Jane Shore and Alicia 
came forth in laced stays and hooped petticoats ; and, in 
Zara, Miss Young practised the same anachronism; and 
the representative ofNerestan, the Crusader, was dressed in 
the white uniform of the French Guards ; while, at another 
time, Cleopatra appeared in "hooped petticoats, stomacher, 
and powdered commode, with a richly ornamented fan in 
her hand !" Although the stage appointments, generally 
speaking, were at this time conceived in good taste, and 
on an extravagant scale, little attention appears to have 
been paid to this point, so essential in aiding the illusion, 
and carrying the audience back to the time intended to be 

Another evil of mischievous tendency, and which must 
have been an impediment to the working out of the plot, 
and an obstruction an dintrusion in its progress, was the 
system of allowing " people of quality" to occupy stage 
seats, or chairs ranged upon the stage; and in this light it 
appears at length to have been viewed, for, in 1729, the 
public resisted it so vigorously that it was thenceforward 

The general appearance of the theatre and the charac- 
ter of the audience has just been well sketched by Mr. 
Lawrence, in his " Life of Fielding :" 

" The audiences of these days were very differently 
constituted from those of our own time. When a new 


play was produced, the pit was almost entirely filled with 
critics, who congregated there, and gave the signal for 
applause or condemnation. The boxes were altogether 
reserved for the quality for persons of rank, note, or 
fashion. The beaux all attended in full dress, and came 
rather to see and to be seen than to attend to the play. 
The ladies conducted themselves in the manner described 
by Fielding in one of his farces (' Miss Lucy in Town'), 
where a country-bred lady innocently inquires what they 
do ' at your what-d'ye-call-'em your plays ?' ' Why, if 
they can,' she is answered, < they take a stage-box, where 
they let the footman sit the first two acts to show his 
livery, then they come in to show themselves, spread 
their fans upon the spikes, make curtseys to their ac- 
quaintance, and then talk and laugh as loud as they are 
able/ The ( vulgar and indifferent' (Macklin) being ex- 
cluded from the pit and boxes, found refuge in the lower 
gallery, where they occasionally amused themselves with 
cat-calls and other discordant noises." 

The footmen were always nuisances at the theatre ; 
while they were " keeping the places" for " the family" 
they contrived to annoy the whole house. 

" The theatre should be esteemed the centre of polite- 
ness and good manners, yet numbers of them every 
evening are lolling over the boxes while they keep places 
for their masters, with their hats on ; play over their airs, 
take snuff, laugh aloud, adjust their cocks' combs, or hold 
dialogues with their brethren from one side of the house 
to the other." Weekly Register, March 25th, 1732. 

The fellows, it appears, had got it into their heads that 
they were entitled to the free entree of the upper gallery : 
this had been conceded to them, but they were so clamorous 
and unruly here, that, in 1737, Fleetwood, manager of 


Drury Lane, resisted their usurped privilege, and excluded 
them. This led to a dreadful riot; they assembled in vast 
numbers, forced the theatre doors, cut and wounded many 
persons, and resisted the authorities. 

With a pit full of carping critics, boxes full of chatter- 
ing ladies, and gallery full of " chaffing" footmen, an 
actor required some nerve to venture on the stage. 

At this time the theatres opened at four o'clock : the 
unhappy Doctor Dodd, in his novel of "The Sisters," 
published in 1754 (vol. i. page 241), says, "They were at 
the doors of the theatre before three, and had the high 
satisfaction to stand there an hour before the doors were 

But it was succeeded by another practice, almost as 
destructive to the effect which the actors sought to pro- 
duce the stationing of sentinels at each end of the stage 
at the theatres royal ; a custom which was continued as 
late as 1763. And as from chairs and seats the managers 
had got to amphitheatres and erections at the back of the 
stage, it was, for some time after, the practice to announce 
on the playbills on a benefit night, " There will be no 
buildings on the stage." 

The announcements of the performances at the several 
theatres were only given to the public through one chosen 
organ of the press, as the following notices at two different 
periods will show : 

" The manager of Drury Lane thinks it proper to give 
notice that advertisements of their plays by their authority 
are published only in this paper and the Daily Courant, 
and that the publishers of all other papers who presume 
to insert advertisements of the same plays can do it only by 
some surreptitious intelligence or hearsay, which frequently 
leads them to commit gross errors, as mentioning one play 


for another, falsely representing the parts, &c., to the mis- 
information of the town, and the great detriment of the 
said theatre." Daily Post, 1721. 

" To prevent any mistake in future, in advertising the 
plays and entertainments of Drury Lane Theatre, the 
managers think it proper to declare that the playbills are 
inserted by their direction in this paper only." Public 
Advertiser p , January 1st, 1765. 

A similar notice from the Covent Garden managers 
appears in the same paper. 

If the curse of political feeling, in its strongest and 
most fanatical shape, could not be excluded from the 
coffee-house, the rout, the domestic fireside, or even from 
the lady's toilette, we cannot expect to find it expelled from 
the theatre ; but our readers will hardly be prepared to 
hear in what way, and to what extent, partisanship exhi- 
bited itself within the playhouse walls. No arrangement 
of the contending factions in the House of Commons was 
ever preserved more strictly than the audience of the 
theatre observed in dividing themselves into the two great 
parties, the Tory ladies sitting on one side of the house? 
while the Whig ladies were drawn up on the other side; 
and we may imagine with what expression each party 
would cast a side-glance at the other on the delivery of 
some passage or sentiment which would appear to affect 
its opinions. The most innocent sentences were tortured 
into political meaning, and applauded or condemned as 
they accorded with, or were distasteful to, the respective 
parties' views. Perhaps no piece was interpreted so satis- 
factorily to both sides as Addison's " Cato," for, while the 
Whigs admired it on account of the Whiggish principles 
of its author, the Tories, on one occasion, actually pre- 
sented a purse of fifty guineas to Barton Booth, who 


played the part of Cato, as " a slight acknowledgment of 
his honest opposition to a perpetual dictator, and in dying 
so bravely in the cause of liberty." No doubt this was 
in part a tribute to the talent of the actor; but the fanci- 
ful terms in which it was presented were designed as a 
" fling" at the opposite party. 

The extent to which political sentiments and party 
clap-traps were introduced upon the stage, furnished Sir 
Robert Walpole with an excuse for that absurd act for 
the regulation of theatres, in 1737, which, by requiring 
the manuscript of a play to be submitted to the Lord 
Chamberlain previously to its representation, virtually 
established, as we have seen it in our own days, an arbi- 
trary censorship over the drama. 

Barring these abuses and venial errors, these were 
sunny days for the English drama. The distaste for 
native authors and native actors, and the passion for 
foreign mountebanks, so angrily ridiculed by Hogarth, 
were only intermittent, and the royal theatres, " the play- 
house in Lincoln's Inn-fields," and, latterly, Colman's and 
Foote's "little summer theatre in the Haymarket," 
flourished in spite of them. But then, if we had Gar- 
ricks^ Bettertons, Macklins, Riches, Quins, Footes, Booths, 
and a host of clever delineators to act the English drama, 
what splendid geniuses wrote it ! There were Addison, 
Steele, Smollett, Fielding, Gay, Goldsmith, Johnson, 
Hawkesworth, Thompson, Young, Mrs. Centlivre, Mrs. 
Inchbald, the Gibbers, the Colmans, the Sheridans, Aaron 
Hill, Lillo, O'Keefe, Macklin, Hannah More, Charles 
Shadwell, Motteux, Cumberland, Rowe, D'Urfey, Van- 
brugh, Whitehead, Theobald, the latter productions of 
Congreve, Cowley, Charles Dibdin, William Shirley, 
George Alexander Steevens, Home, Holcroft, the Careys, 


Chatterton, Mrs. Olive, Dodsley, Cobb, Murphy, Allan 
Ramsay, Kelly all men of more or less note, writing for 
the theatres most of them good in their respective 
walks and many of whose dramas are even now brought 
forward occasionally, but too sparingly, as a choice treat 
whereon to feast our minds after a surfeit of the modern 
French trumpery which is hashed up for the stage ; Pope, 
Johnson, Garrick, and Horace Walpole at the same time 
concocting the prologues and epilogues, down even to Cap- 
tain Topham; and, notwithstanding the opinion of a 
critic in the Weekly Magazine of 1770, that, instead of 
the prologue being an outline, and the epilogue a moral 
application of the drama, they had become "pointed 
satires of men and manners," these productions, now ra- 
pidly becoming obsolete, display a considerable amount 
of sparkling wit and sometimes eloquent pathos, and are 
invaluable to historians of our own modest pretensions, 
who search no musty record, nor dive into black-letter 
lore, but skim the lighter literature in which only is to be 
found the folly, fashion, or rage of which we may want a 
specimen for our museum. 




THE idle, the desperate, the sanguine, and the hopeless, 
the knave and the fool, have been in all generations, and 
ever will be, gamblers. There is a charm in the uncer- 
tainty, the suspense, the speculation, the hazard of gaming, 
which dazzles the young, and even sometimes attracts the 
wary. The courtier, the statesman, the general, the stock- 
jobber, and the merchant, are they not all, in a greater or 
less degree, gamblers? For riches or honour depend on 
" how they play their cards " chance has something to do 
with all their gains and losses. 

In the recognised gambling of stock-jobbers every device 
was resorted to in order to influence the stock-market. 
False reports, especially during the several wars, were 
circulated; sham couriers galloped through the streets, 
spreading uncertainty and mystery over the aspect of 
affairs; and even on June the 22nd, 1787, we find a 
woman was arrested at the Royal Exchange, in London, 
for vending a fictitious London Gazette Extraordinary, 
giving a fabulous account of the movements of the French 
troops, which caused the funds to fall one per cent. ! 

But in the more contracted sense in which we under- 
stand the word " gambling," our grandsires appear to have 


been more attached to it than the generations which went 
before them. The actor and the politician, the divine and 
the tradesman, were alike infected with a rage for gaming. 
The Duke of Devonshire lost his valuable estate of Lei- 
cester Abbey to Manners at a game at basset. Peers were 
impoverished, and estates mortgaged in a single sitting, 
and the man who had entered the room in a state of afflu- 
ence, rushed madly into the streets at night penniless, 
and probably in debt to a large amount. The chocolate- 
rooms in the neighbourhood of Charing-cross, Leicester- 
fields, and Golden-square, were the principal "hells" of 
the West-end, and it was not far for ruin, disgrace, and 
despair to find oblivion in the bosom of the Serpentine or 
the Thames. The coffee-houses, we are told, most no- 
torious for gambling, were " White's Chocolate House," 
for piquet or basset clubs, in 1724;* " Littleman's," for 
faro, which was played in every room; "JDldman's," 
"Tom's," "Will's," and "Jonathan's" Coffee-houses, for 
ombre, piquet, and loo. About 1730, the "Crown" 
Coffee-house, in Bedford-row, became the rendezvous of 
a club of whist players. Early in the century, although 
Swift mentions it as a clergyman's game, whist appears to 
have been less in vogue, except with footmen and servants, 
among whom it kept company with put and all-fours, but 
it became the rage among all circles in 1742. 

" Du restej the town is wondrous dull; operas un- 
frequented, plays not in fashion, amours as old as mar- 
riages in short, nothing but whist! I have not yet 
learned to play, but I find that I wait in vain for its being 
left off." Horace Walpole to Sir H. Mann, Dec. 2nd, 

* The Earl of Orford declared White's Chocolate House to be " the bane 
of half the English nobility." 


" Whist has spread an universal opium over the whole 
nation; it makes courtiers and patriots sit down to the 
same pack of cards." The Same to the Same, Dec. 9th, 

" The Kingdom of the Dull is come upon earth. * * * 
The only token of this new kingdom is a woman riding 
on a beast, which is the mother of abominations, and the 
name on the forehead is Whist; and the four-and-twenty 
elders, and the woman, and the whole town, do nothing 
but play with this beast, &c. &c." The Same to the 
Same, Dec. 23rd, 1742. 

From the frequent mention of it in Swift's " Journal 
to Stella," we should surmise that ombre was in great 
fashion about 1710 to 1713, as was crimp among the 
ladies, according to Steele; and, in 1726, we find, in 
" Gay's Correspondence," a letter to Swift, in which he 
alludes to the favour in which the game of quadrille was 
then held: "I can find amusement enough without 
quadrille, which here is the universal employment of 

" Nay/ cries honest Parson Adams, in the True Briton 
of January the 28th, 1746, "the holy Sabbath is, it 
seems, prostituted to these wicked revellings, and card- 
playing goes on as publicly as on any other day ! Nor is 
this only among the young lads and damsels, who might 
be supposed to know no better, but men advanced in 
years, and grave matrons, are not ashamed of being caught 
at the same pastime." 

The Daily Journal of January the 9th, 1751, gives a 
list of the officers retained " in the most notorious gaming- 
houses," showing how these matters were then managed. 
The first twelve were : 

" 1. A commissioner, always a proprietor, who looks in 


of a night, and the week's account is audited by him and 
two other proprietors. 

"2. A director, who superintends the room. 

"3. An operator, who deals the cards at a cheating 
game called faro. 

"4. Two crowpers (croupiers), who watch the cards 
and gather the money for the bank. 

" 5. Two puffs, who have money given them to decoy 
others to play. 

" 6. A clerk, who is a check upon the puffs, to see 
that they sink none of the money given them to play 

"7. A squib is a puff of lower rank, who serves at half- 
pay salary while he is learning to deal. 

" 8. A flasher, to swear how often the bank has been 

"9. A dunner, who goes about to recover money lost 
at play. 

"10. A waiter, to fill out wine, snuff candles, and 
attend the gaming-room. 

"11. An attorney a Newgate solicitor. 

" 12. A captain, who is to fight any gentleman who is 
peevish at losing his money." 

The green-rooms of the theatres, even, were the scenes 
of great doings in the gaming way; and Miss Bellamy 
tells^us that thousands were frequently lost there in a 
night rings, brooches, watches, professional wardrobes, 
and even salaries in advance, being staked and lost as well 
as money. 

Horace Walpole's anecdote of White's Chocolate House 
is so well known, as scarcely to bear repetition: A man 
dropping down at the door, bets were at once made on the 
probability of his being dead, and the members grew 


furious at a surgeon attempting to bleed him, as it would 
interfere with the contingencies of the bet ! 

It was in vain that essays, satires, and sermons were 
written with a view to checking this universal vice. 
Hogarth has depicted it in all its horrors, whether in the 
scene where it first leads the idle apprentice into sin, or in 
the other, where it shows the young rake the way to gaol. 
But its dreadful consequences were most forcibly placed 
before the eyes of the infatuated town by Edward Moore, 
in a tragedy first performed at Drury Lane in 1753, and 
entitled the " Gamester." How did " the town" receive 
this lesson? The "New Theatrical Dictionary" says: 
" With all its merits, it met with but little success, the 
general cry against it being that the distress was too deep 
to be borne. Yet we are rather apt to imagine its want of 
perfect approbation arose in one part (and that no inconsi- 
derable one) of the audience from a tenderness of another 
kind than that of compassion, and that they were less 
hurt by the distress of Beverley than by finding their 
darling vice their favourite folly thus vehemently at- 
tacked by the strong lance of reason and dramatic exe- 

But this absorbing passion was not confined to the 
harsher sex. Coteries of ladies, young and old, single and 
married, had their regular nights of meeting; and the 
household expenses were occasionally not a little increased 
by the loss, in a single evening, of three times the last 
night's winnings, which had pacified the husband, or, 
maybe, been already laid out in a new brocaded dress, 
stomacher, commode, or fan. Who does not remember 
the terrible moral contained in the " Lady's Last Stake ?'* 
doubtless, when jewels and trinkets had been successively 
staked and lost, the pearl of greatest value the most 



brilliant ornament of the sex was in danger. Swift 
draws a true but satirical picture of this state of things in 
his "Journal of a Modern Lady;" and Hogarth records 
the participation of the fair in this engrossing vice, and, 
in his et Taste in High Life," we see a complete pyramid, 
composed of a pack of cards, and on the floor beside them 
a memorandum, inscribed " Lady Basto, D r - to John Pip, 
for cards, 300/." Nay, so far did the ladies carry this in- 
fatuation, that women of fashion at length established in 
their levees regular whist-masters and professors of qua- 
drille. This was a most ^distressing feature in the domestic 
life of the century the " mothers and wives of England" 
(the gentle reformers that they ought to be !) following 
the examples of their husbands, or setting them to their 
children making their home literally " a hell," and their 
unborn children paupers ! 

If not the earliest, at least the most remarkable instance 
of this national spirit of "gambling which displayed itself 
in the last century, was the infatuation which led all 
classes to commit themselves to the alluring prospects held 
out to them by the South Sea Company. The public 
creditor was offered six per cent, interest, and a participa- 
tion in the profits of a new trading company, incorporated 
under the style of " The Governor and Company of Mer- 
chants of Great Britain trading to the South Seas and 
other parts of America." But whatever chances of success 
this company might have had were soon dispersed by the 
breaking out of the war with Spain in 1718, which ren- 
dered it necessary for the concoctors of the scheme to 
circulate the most exaggerated reports, falsify their books, 
bribe the members of the government, and resort to every 
fraudulent means for the purpose of propping up their 
tottering creation. Wonderful discoveries of valuable 


resources were trumped up, and, by the mystery which 
they contrived to throw around the whole concern, people's 
curiosity was excited, and a general but vague impression 
got abroad that one of the South Sea Company's bonds 
was talismanic, and there was no reckoning the amount 
of profit it would bring to the fortunate possessor ; the 
smallest result expected from the enterprise was, that in 
twenty-six years it would pay off the entire amount of the 
National Debt ! 

How it was to be done no one knew, or cared to in- 
quire ; it was sufficient to know it was to be done. Trade 
and business of all kinds was suspended, every pursuit and 
calling neglected, and the interest of the whole nation ab- 
sorbed by this enchanting dream. Money was realised in 
every way, and at every sacrifice and risk, to be made 
available in the purchase of South Sea Stock, which rose 
in price with the demand, from 150/. to 325 L per cent. 
Fresh speculators came pouring in, and the price went up 
to 10001. per cent. ! This was at the latter end of July; 
but lo! a whisper went forth that there was something 
wrong with the South Sea Company the chairman, Sir 
John Blunt, and some of the directors had sold their 
shares there was "a screw loose somewhere;" and, on 
the 2nd of September, it was quoted at 700Z. An attempt 
to allay the panic was made by the directors, who called 
a meeting on the 8th, at Merchant Tailors' Hall, but in 
the evening it fell to 640/., and, next day, stood at 540/. 
The fever had been succeeded by a shivering fit, and it 
was rapidly running down to zero ! In this emergency 
the king, who was at Hanover, was sent for, and Sir 
Robert Walpole called in when the case was desperate. 
He endeavoured to persuade the Bank of England to 
circulate the company's bonds, but in vain ; the stock fell 



to 1357., and the bubble burst. The duration of this 
public " delirium," as Smollett has truly called it, may be 
estimated when we state that the bill enabling the com- 
pany to raise the subscription received the royal assent on 
the 7th of April, 1720, with the stock at 1507., that the 
price subsequently ran up to 10007., and that, on the 
29th of September, it had again sunk to 1507., and the 
delusion was over, and the nation in a state of panic, with 
public credit shaken to its centre. Investigations were 
now made into the conduct of the managers of this mar- 
vellous fraud. A bill was first passed through parliament 
to prevent the escape of the directors from the kingdom, 
and then a committee of secrecy appointed to examine 
into their accounts. It then came out that books had 
been destroyed or concealed, entries erased and altered, and 
accounts falsified; that the king's mistress even, the Duchess 
of Kendal, had received stock to the amount of 10,0007.; 
another favourite, the Countess of Platen, 10,0007.; the 
Earl of Sutherland, 50,0007.; each of the Countess of 
Platen's two nieces, 10,0007. ; Mr. Aislabie, Chancellor of 
the Exchequer, 70,0007.; Mr. Craggs, father of the Se- 
cretary of State, 659,000?.; the Earl of Sunderland, 
160,0007.; Mr. Craggs, junior, 30,0007.; and Mr. Charles 
Stanhope, Secretary of the Treasury, two amounts, one 
of 10,0007., and another of 47,0007. ! The manner in 
which these worthies, who were in the secret, could anti- 
cipate and influence the markets, is obvious. Poor Gay 
had received an allotment of stock from Mr. Secretary 
Craggs, which was at one time worth 20,0007.; but he 
clung fast to the bubble, refused to sell at that price, and 
waited till it was worthless, when he found himself hugging 
the shadow of a fortune ! The amount of the company's 
stock at the time of the inquiry was found to be 


37,800,0007., of which 24,500,0007. belonged to indivi- 
dual proprietors. As some compensation to these rash 
and ruined speculators, the estates of the directors were 
confiscated. Sir George Caswell was expelled the House 
of Commons, and made to disgorge 250,0007. ; Aislabie, 
the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was expelled, and com- 
mitted to the Tower ; Sir John Blunt, the chairman, was 
stripped of all but 50007. ; and Sir John Fellowes was 
deprived of 233,0007. ; and the excitement and popular 
resentment was so intense, that it is marvellous that they 
escaped with their lives. 

The South Sea frenzy was not sufficient to engross the 
gambling spirit that it had generated; simultaneously 
there oozed up a crowd of smaller bubbles, of which 
Malcolm counted one hundred and fifty-six. The titles 
of some of them were sufficient to illustrate the madness 
which had seized upon the nation ! 

" Companies for carrying on the undertaking business 
and furnishing funerals, capital 1,200,0007., at the Fleece 
Tavern " (ominous sign !), " Cornhill for discounting 
pensions, 2000 shares, at the Globe Tavern for prevent- 
ing and suppressing thieves, and insuring all persons' 
goods from the same ( ! ), capital 2,000,0007., at Cooper's 
for making of Joppa and Castile soap, at the . Castle 
Tavern for sweeping the streets for maintaining bastard 
children for improving gardens and raising fruit-trees, 
at Garra way's for insuring horses against natural death, 
accident, or theft, at the Crown Tavern, Smithfield an- 
other at Robin's, of the same nature, capital 2,000,0007. 
for introducing the breed of asses ( ! ) an insurance 
company against the thefts of servants, 3000 shares, of 
10007. each, at the Devil Tavern for a perpetual motion, 
by means of a wheel moving by force of its own weight, 


capital 1,000,000/., at the Ship Tavern for assurance 
of seamen's wages for insuring and increasing children's 
fortunes for making looking-glasses for improving 
malt liquors for planting of mulberry-trees and breed- 
ing of silkworms in Chelsea Park for fattening of hogs 
for discovering the land of Ophir, &c., &c." 

The .shares of the Water Engine Company, with 4/. 
paid, sold for 501. of the Stocking Company, with 
21. 10s. paid, for 30Z. of the Company for Manuring of 
Land, with 2s. 6d. paid, for II. 10s. The Prince of 
Wales became governor of a Welsh Copper Company ; 
the Duke of Chandos was chairman of the York-buildings 
Company, and of another company for building houses in 
London and Westminster. 

Many of these speculations were jealously prosecuted by 
the South Sea Company, but they all succeeded, in a 
greater or less degree, in spreading the general panic. 
The amount of capital proposed to be raised by these 
countless schemes was three hundred millions sterling 
exceeding the value of all the lands in England ! The 
most amusing instance of the blind credulity of the public 
was in the success which attended one wily projector, who, 
well knowing the value of mystery, published the follow- 
ing proposal: 

"This day, the 8th instant, at Sam's Coffee-house, be- 
hind the Royal Exchange, at three in the afternoon, a 
book will be opened for entering into a joint co-partner- 
ship for carrying on a thing that will turn to the advantage 
of all concerned." 

The particulars of this notable scheme were not to be 
revealed for a month, and, "in the mean time," says 
Smollett, "he declared that every person paying two 
guineas should be entitled to a subscription of one hun- 


cLced pounds, which would produce that sum yearly. In 
one forenoon the adventurer received a thousand of these 
subscriptions, and, in the evening, set out for another 
kingdom !" 

Some curious satires of these several schemes are pre- 
served in the British Museum, in the shape of a pack of 
playing-cards. Thus, one is a caricature of York-build- 
ings, with the following lines beneath it : 

Tou that are blest with wealth by your Creator, 
And want to drown your money in Thames water, 
Buy but York-buildings, and the cistern there 
Will sink more pence than any fool can spare. 

A ship-building company is thus ridiculed : 

Who but a nest of blockheads to their cost 
Would build new ships for freight when trade is lost ? 
To raise fresh barques must surely be amusing, 
When hundreds rot in dock for want of using. 

The Pennsylvanian Land Company comes in for a share 
of the satire : 

Come, all ye saints, that would for little buy 
Great tracts of land, and care not where they lie, 
Deal with your Quaking friends they're men of light 
The spirit hates deceit and scorns to bite. 

The Company for the Insurance of Horses' Lives 
against Death or Accident is thus dealt with : 

You that keep horses to preserve your ease, 
And pads to please your wives and mistresses, 
Insure their lives, and, if they die we'll make 
Full satisfaction or be bound to break ! 

Smollett gives us a more dismal picture. " The whole 
nation," he says, " was infested with the spirit of stock- 
jobbing to an astonishing degree. All distinctions of 
party, religion, sex, character, and circumstances were 


swallowed up. Exchange-alley was filled with a strange 
concourse of statesmen and clergymen, churchmen and 
dissenters, Whigs and Tories, physicians, lawyers, trades- 
men, and even with females; all other professions and 
employments were utterly neglected." 

In this state of the public feeling, it is not to be won- 
dered at that lottery schemes were received with favour, 
when the government were forced to resort to them as a 
means of raising the supplies; but what is remarkable, is 
the amount of superstition which was connected with the 
working of them. The chance of a twenty or thirty 
thousand pound prize was too dazzling, and the tickets 
were bought up almost as soon as they were issued; nay, 
scarcely had " the scheme" of the " New State Lottery" 
made its appearance in the London Gazette, before the 
offices of the agents and contractors to whom the distri- 
bution of the tickets fell, were besieged by impatient ap- 
plicants ; for, as Fielding says in his farce of the " Lot- 

A lottery is a taxation 
Upon all the fools in creation ; 

And Heaven be prais'd, 

It is easily raised 
Credulity's always in fashion. 

The rage for a " ticket in the lottery" was a species of 
monomania with which few people were not infected, 
from the nobleman who could afford to purchase a whole 
ticket, to the servant who raised the sum (often, as has 
been proved, by pilfering) necessary to purchase a six- 
teenth. Long and serious was the consideration in the 
choice of an agent. " Hazard" was a famous name ; nay, 
" Winpenny" was better, and his office was the King's 
Arms, Saint Dunstan's Church : he had sold the twenty 
thousand prize in the last lottery (and our speculator never 


paused to think that this very fact would reduce the 
amount of probability of his selling one in the present); 
but then " Goodluck" that had a more musical sound ! 
The case was perplexing, and the anxious speculator long 
wavered in doubt and hesitation, till a bill is, perchance, 
thrust into his hand with some doggerel song, ending in 
such a chorus as 

For oh ! 'tis Bisk, 'tis BISH, 'tis BISH, 

Who sends the cash around ; 
I only wish a friend in Bish, 

And thirty thousand pound ! 

or a glance at the long list of " Prizes sold by Bish ! ! !" in 
former lotteries decides his choice, and to Bish's office 
accordingly he hies. But now interposes another mo- 
mentous question What number shall he choose? Three 
is lucky so is twelve seven is decidedly unlucky : there 
must not be a seven in the number, nor must it be divisible 
by seven ; no, it shall be twelve, or one of the multiples of 
twelve; or he will consult a friend, who has been for- 
tunate in his former selections: he chose Gideon Goose's 
number for him, and it was a prize ; he advised Tom Fool 
in his purchase, and it turned up a thousand pounds; 
yes, he would seek his lucky friend, and have his opinion 
as to the number likely to win the grand prize. Such was 
the usual manner of fixing upon a number in the choice of 
a lottery-ticket ; but occasionally a fortune-teller was con- 
sulted, and the figures which she pretended to discern 
and which the credulity of her dupe readily pointed out 
in the grounds of coffee or the formation of the fire, 
were instantly noted down, and the ticket whose number 
corresponded with them anxiously secured, even at a 
heavy premium ; or, as was the cant term for buying a 
ticket, " the horse" was " hired." This is no exaggerated 


picture; the recollection even of many who may read these 
pages will testify to its truth (for lotteries lingered into 
the present century). The superstition and credulity of 
lottery speculators were truly ridiculous. A squinting 
woman, auguring ill-luck, was the most hideous demon 
they could encounter; whilst a man, labouring under the 
same obliquity of vision, and who was supposed to import 
good fortune, became a very angel in their eyes. Dreams 
were held of marvellous account; but, if a crumb fell from 
the table, or but a grain of salt were spilled on the morn- 
ing of " the drawing," what losses did it not portend ! 

But the eventful day which was to decide the fortunes 
of thousands the question of life or death to many 
pregnant with joy and misery, success and disappointment 
now approaches, and the sanguine holder of a lottery- 
ticket, already the confident possessor of a prize of twenty 
thousand pounds, disdains to walk to the scene of his an- 
ticipated triumph, and hires a hackney-coach from the 
nearest stand, or perhaps a brass-nailed leather chair, to 
carry him to Guildhall. What ! walk ? He, the holder 
of a ticket which will soon be drawn a prize! Psha! 
"Coach! coach! To Guildhall as fast as you like!" 
No quibbling about the fare there is no occasion for 
economy now ; the only consideration is speed, for the 
speculator is impatient to grasp his coming fortune. How 
crowded is the old hall with anxious faces some beam- 
ing with hope ; others betraying a mixed sensation, half 
hope, half fear ; others, again, bent seriously on the 
ground, their owners wondering, evidently, when the 
drawing will commence when their respective numbers 
will be drawn what they will be, prizes or blanks ; if 

prizes, of what amount ; if blanks See ! the sleeves 

of the Bluecoat-boy, who is to draw the numbers, are 


turned up at the wrist. And why is this ? To prevent 
his concealing, as he was once suspected of doing, a prize 
beneath his cuff. And now the wheel revolves a prize 
is drawn ! What number ? Hush ! Silence there ! Ha ! 
is it possible ? Yes, yonder buxom servant, whose coun- 
tenance has been changing alternately from white to red, 
is the happy possessor of twelve hundred pounds, a six- 
teenth of the prize. That babe, who is fretting and 
screaming in its mother's arms, is the all-unconscious 
owner of another portion and a long history the proud 
mother has to tell to the surrounding crowd of that same 
screaming babe: how that she had purchased the share 
with the money she had saved up when " in service" 
how she had held him forth, and allowed his tiny hand oh, 
bless it! to dive among the numbers and how he drew 
forth from among the mass bless his little heart ! he did 
the identical one that had obtained the prize; and, as 
he kicks and frets in the oppressive heat of the hall, what 
an innocent accessory does he seem to have been to his 
own fortune ! But, hark ! something withdraws the at- 
tention of her audience : a buzz had recommenced at the 
upper end of the hall, but now everything is hushed. 
Once more the wheel of fortune flies round, and this time 

is drawn a blank ! Note yonder man, who has been 

straining and stretching his neck to see the number ex- 
hibited, or hear it pronounced he 'is the possessor of the 
ticket. Poor fellow ! Mark his countenance how the 
ray of hope which had previously illumined it disappears ! 
This was his last attempt; for years he had been hoarding 
up a little money for a risk in this lottery, and had in- 
vested it in an entire ticket, and now he has lost it all. 
For himself he cares not: his days cannot be very many 
more, and the workhouse is open to him ; but it was for 


his orphan grandchild to support her when he was gone, 
to keep her from the streets and wretchedness. Poor fel- 
low ! He buries his face in his hands, but dare not think 
of home. Rich peer, who standest by his side, and hast 
come merely for amusement and to see the drawing, a 
score of pounds taken from your great store would not be 
missed take pity on the wretch, and save, oh ! save the 
child ! Equally unsuccessful have been all his former 
attempts : he feels that he is doomed. And this, which 
had been the constant theme of his conversation and the 
subject of his thoughts by day, and the substance of his 
dreams by night, when, awaking, he had fondled the 
child, and, calling it by endearing names, cried in his 
maddening hopefulness, "You shall ride in a carriage, 
Nelly you shall be rich, Nelly, and keep your poor old 
grandfather !" this, for which he had denied himself the 
few luxuries which his scanty means would have enabled 
him to enjoy, and perhaps, even, robbed Nature of her 
due this, for which he had at last sacrificed his self- 
respect, and carried his long-preserved and carefully- 
cherished wedding-suit to the pawnbroker's this, for the 
issue of which he had induced his importunate and 
clamorous creditors to wait, this last chance lost, his last 
hope went with it. There was now nothing before him 
but the workhouse or the gaol. Stay ! Yes, there was 

the river ! For the poor little orphan at home lost 

child ! the carriage never came ! 

Frightful evils grew out of these State lotteries; in 
many cases they rendered the unfortunate speculator a 
maniac and a suicide in many more they encouraged 
dishonesty and crime. In 1754, the agents and their 
friends, it was discovered, were in the habit of monopo- 
lising the tickets by means of using various false names 


although the Lottery Act specially prohibited any one 
person from holding more than twenty tickets and car- 
ried this system on to such an extent, defaulting if unsuc- 
cessful, and causing serious deficiencies in the revenue, 
that a committee of the House of Commons was appointed 
to inquire into the evil; and one man, on its suggestion, 
was prosecuted in the Court of King's Bench, and fined a 
thousand pounds. Neither were these agents considered 
by the public immaculate or incapable of cheating their 
infatuated customers, for, in 1774, Hazard and Co. ad- 
vertise that they have made an affidavit before the Lord 
Mayor that they will "justly and honestly pay the prizes" 
an assurance, intended to inspire confidence, which 
hints significantly at the existence of distrust. 

But the agents were sometimes victimised themselves 
by a class of adventurers yet more cunning and unscrupu- 
lous. Several of the "lottery-office keepers" as they 
were called, had a small room at the back of their shops, in 
which they pursued the lucrative business of "insuring 
numbers." Thus, a person having a superstitious preju- 
dice in favour of any particular number, but without the 
means sufficient to purchase the ticket of the corre- 
sponding number, would, on payment of a shilling to the 
agent, effect an insurance on it, by which, in the event 
of its being drawn a prize, he would receive the amount 
for which he might have insured it. This betting prac- 
tice (for such it was), which, in fact, formed a lottery on 
a smaller scale was strictly prohibited by the govern- 
ment, as it superseded in some degree the purchase of 
tickets. The consequence was, that these illicit pro- 
ceedings were carried on in a surreptitious manner, the 
door being secured against intruders before the agent 
would enter upon the business of insurance. To practise 


a fraud upon these insurers was excusable, and tolerably 
safe, seeing that they had no redress at law. Persons 
were in the habit of attending the drawing of the lotteries, 
which usually took place at about eight o'clock in the even- 
ing, and posting their agents along the shortest cut to the 
insurance-office, the instant a prize was drawn a messenger 
was sent to communicate the number of it to the first of 
these living telegraphs, or, as they were popularly called, 
" carrier pigeons." The information was rapidly conveyed 
along the line till it reached the last, who forthwith 
rushed to the office and insured the number heavily ; in a 
few minutes the insurer received intelligence by some less 
rapid mode of communication that it was a prize, and the 
sum insured was accordingly the booty of the party 
insured and his accomplices. To guard against this 
fraud, the keepers of the insurance-offices subsequently 
closed their doors as soon as the drawing of the lottery 
had commenced; but even then they were cheated, for 
the number of a prize just drawn has been thrust through 
the keyhole and received unnoticed by one of the crowd 
who was waiting inside the office, under lock and key, to 

The keeper of one of these offices is made to say, in a 
farce written in 1781, and entitled "The Temple of 
Fortune :" " Bolt the door, for it grows near nine o'clock, 
and mind that no one stands near the door, as a carrier 
pigeon may fly through the keyhole, for such things have 
been known." From the same farce, it would appear that 
the lottery-office keepers would sometimes sell a number 
twice over, for, on a Frenchman applying for No. 45, the 
keeper says, aside, after selling it to him, " That was 
drawn yesterday, by-the-by, but he will have nearly as 
good a chance with that as any other." 




THERE were many circumstances which tended to 
make duels more frequent in the last century than they 
are at present. The inefficiency of the watch, the un- 
lighted state of the streets, the proximity of fields and 
secluded places to the city and west-end, the fashion of / 
wearing swords and hangers, the immoderate taste for/ 
gambling, the practice of drinking deeply, even in good', 
society, the violence and acrimony of political feeling, the \ 
frequency of intrigues and amours in fashionable life all, 
doubtless, contributed to swell the list of murders which ' 
were perpetrated under the name of duels. 

Did the stranger who sat opposite to you in the coffee- 
house differ from you in opinion ; did the blacklegs, with 
whom you had just lost a few thousands at fairo, after 
cozening you out of your estate, jeer you upon venturing 
no more ; did your friend refuse to acknowledge the 
supremacy of your mistress over his, there was no other 
remedy than a duel, and a duel was accordingly " got up," 
and fought frequently in the room, even, where the 
dispute arose as in the following instance, which we copy 
from a newspaper of 1710 : 

"As Mr. C was yesterday passing the Adelphi 


coffee-house, he was met by Mr. L , with whom he 

had a slight dispute the day before, in which some offen- 
sive words had been used. Mr. C dragged him into 

the coffee-room, and, locking the door, handed him a 
loaded pistol, and pointing one himself, desired him to 
fire. The pistols being discharged without effect, Mr. 

C drew his sword, and called on Mr. L to defend 

himself; but the report of the pistols and the clashing of 
the weapons attracting the attention of a club which was 
assembled in the adjoining room, the door was broken 
open, and the combatants were separated without further 

The peculiar notions of the age rendered a duel almost 
a necessary resentment of an affront, punishment of an 
injury, or settlement of a dispute. What says Dr. John- 
son ? " He, then, who fights a duel does not fight from 
passion against his antagonist, but out of self-defence, to 
avert the stigma of the world, and to prevent himself 
from being driven out of society. I could wish there were 
not that superfluity of sentiment, but while such notions 
prevail, no doubt a man may lawfully fight a duel." 
Here, then, we have the least chivalrous of philosophers 
giving a specious justification of this barbarous practice, 
and allowing the lawfulness of murder when it was neces- 
sary to preserve a man's station in society ! 

A duel at this time was " open to persons of limited 
means," as the advertisements would say. There was no 
outlay required in the purchase of hair-triggered pistols; 
no expensive trip to Wimbledon Common or Wormwood 
Scrubbs. A sword was always ready at hand, and the 
green fields and retired lanes were close to Charing-cross ; 
and an angry partisan, a ruined gamester, or a heated 
bacchanalian, was converted into a mutilated corpse in 


less time than is now occupied in choosing a place of 
rendezvous. A half-pay officer, or a retired captain who 
"had a taste that way," although frequently a stranger, to 
both the parties concerned, would always come forward to 
offer his services to either of them as second, and while the 
drowsy watchman was slumbering on his post, a mortal 
wound was often given and received in this way in the 
very streets of London. 

A duel was not of much use even to the penny-a-liner 
it was too common an event. Each paltry squabble was I 
decided by a duel; every frivolous dispute was followed' 
by a combat; and the persons who had been discussing 
some political question in the coffee-room, staking their 
property at the gaming-table, or toasting their respective I 
mistresses at the banquet, scarcely considered their discus- / 
sion, or their game, or their evening's amusement con-\ 
eluded until they had "crossed swords" in the nearest \ 
meadow. Can we look through a single novel written in 
the eighteenth century, and illustrating its manners, with- 
out finding at least a brace of duels in it? It was the 
fashion for friends to run each other through the body, and 
the occurrence was, perhaps, reported in the papers next 
day (perhaps not noticed at all) not as it would be now- 
a-days, headed "Horrible Tragedy!" and emblazoned in 
large type and garnished with notes of exclamation, but 
concisely stated as a matter of ordinary occurrence, to the 
effect that Mr. So-and-so and Mr. Such-a-one, having 
had an altercation respecting a celebrated toast, they had 
fought in Such-and-such fields, when Mr. Such-a-one 
was mortally wounded by a thrust from his adversary's 
sword. What, for instance, can read colder or tamer than 
the following paragraph from the " Gentleman's Monthly 
Intelligencer" of the London Magazine of August, 1735? 


" Thursday, Itk.- About six this morning a duel was 
fought near the Horse Guard-house, at Kensington, be- 
tween James Lee, of the county of Salop, Esq., and 
Jonathan Andrews, Esq., an ensign in Colonel Reed's 
regiment of foot at Gibraltar; when, after several passes, 
the former received a slight wound in his left breast, and 
the other was run through his body, and died on the 
spot. Mr. Andrews gave the challenge, and they fought 
at first in the Privy Garden; but Mr. Lee's sword being 
broke, they were parted, and went home to their lodgings, 
which was in the same house. Mr. Andrews would not 
rest, but challenged him again, and so met his fate." 

A more amusing report in the Westminster Journal of 
February the 19th, 1774, shows how general was the 
resort to weapons offensive among all classes to settle dis- 
putes ; but, in this case, we have the pistol elected umpire 
instead of the sword : 

" Wednesday a duel was fought behind Montague 
House, between two journeymen lace-weavers. The com- 
batants entered the field, accompanied by their seconds, 
when, the usual ceremonies being gone through, one of 
the parties discharged his pistol, the ball from which took 
away part of the sleeve of his antagonist's coat ; and then, 
like a man of courage, without waiting for the fire being re- 
turned, made the best of his way off the field. The quarrel 
began at a public-house, about the mode of cooking a dish 
of sprats, one insisting on having them fried, and the other 
on having them broiled. With the assistance of some 
friends, the sum of three shillings was raised to procure 
the use of pistols to decide this important contest. To 
such a pitch is the most honourable profession of duelling 

Verily we should think these worthy weavers had 


" other fish to fry" than to get into a broil suited only to 
their betters ! Such disputes as these, got up in such a 
way, in such a place, and on such a subject, might natu- 
rally be considered deserving such a mode of adjustment, 
and society could have spared either of the two fools en- 
gaged in this rencontre. But such valuable lives as Sheri- 
dan's, Fox's, Pitt's, Wilkes's, Kemble's, and Castlereagh's 
were more than once jeopardised in the same foolish 
manner. In fact, there was scarcely, we should say, a 
single man of the century who had made himself eminent 
in letters, arts, science, or politics, who had not fought his 
one or more duels. 

These weavers had selected the aristocratic duel grounds 
" behind Montague House," which, together with Hyde 
Park, were the general scenes of rencontres in high life. 
In the latter, the Duke of Hamilton and the infamous 
Lord Mohun fought and fell; and the seconds, Hamilton 
and Macartney, were wounded, in the memorable duel of 
November, 1712 (fought in the presence of many un- 
moved spectators), of which Swift writes to Stella : " The 
duke was helped to the Cake-house, by the ring in Hyde 
Park, where they fought, and died on the grass before 
they could reach the house." 

But these "ceremonious duels," as a modern writer 
says, with a levity hardly consistent with the subject, " to 
which men were formally invited some time beforehand, 
and in which more guests than two participated," were 
scarcely of more frequent occurrence than the a off-hand 
duels impromptu exertions of that species of lively 

" Horace Walpole, senior, quarrelled with a gentleman 
in the House of Commons, and they fought at the stair 
foot. Lord Byron and Mr. Chaworth stepped out of a 



dining-parlour in the ' Star and Garter' Tavern, in Pall 
Mall, and fought by the light of a bedroom candle in an 
adjoining apartment. More than one duel occurred in 
Pall Mall itself." 

So says and says truly Charles Knight, in that de- 
lightful collection of anecdotes and historical facts relating 
to past and present " London." 

Many a high-minded and honourable man fell in as 
paltry a quarrel as could be conceived. Much noble 
blood soaked into the fields of Islington and Pancras in a 
miserable cause ; an idle word, a hasty censure, a thought- 
less jest, must all be blotted out in blood ! And, although 
the blood that was shed was sufficient to wash away the 
words that had provoked it, they still remained unrefuted. 
Courage of this sort, foolhardiness, recklessness, or mere 
bombast, could neither sustain a falsehood nor support a 
truth I 




IT may be as well to prepare the reader's mind for a 
description of the perils of the country roads, by first in- 
quiring what was the condition of the streets of London. 
Gay assists us in forming a tolerable estimate of their ap- 
pearance. It was only in the leading thoroughfares that 
the passengers were protected from the waggons and cars 
by ranges of stout posts, which left barely room for two 
persons to pass abreast, and in some instances, where the 
eccentric architecture of the houses had placed some abut- 
ments upon the path, there was scarcely room for one. 
The path, so formed, was none of the best; the water- 
spouts discharged a torrent of water, in rainy weather, 
from the projecting eaves upon the heads of the passers-by 
(for umbrellas it was considered outlandish and effeminate 
to carry until the century had passed its third quarter), 
while the stones under their feet were so rough and 
uneven, that, as Gay assures us, 

Each stone will wrench th* unwary step aside. 
Outside the posts it was not safe to venture : 


Though expedition bids, yet never stray 
Where no ranged posts defend the rugged way, 
Here laden carts with thundering waggons meet, 
Wheels clash with wheels, and bar the narrow street. 

Such confusion is not witnessed in all the increased traffic 
of modern London ; the roadways are wider, better paved 
and drained, and better regulations are enforced, and the 
vehicles themselves are of a less lumbering construction; 
so that such an accident as Gay describes is not of every- 
day occurrence in all its horrors : 

I've seen a beau, in some ill-fated hour, 

When o'er the stones chok'd kennels swell the shower, 

In gilded chariot loll ; he with disdain 

Views spatter'd passengers all drenched in rain. 

With mud fill'd high the rumbling cart draws near 

Now rule thy prancing steeds, laced charioteer ! 

The dustman lashes on with spiteful rage, 

His ponderous spokes thy painted wheel engage ; 

Crush'd is thy pride down falls the shrieking beau 

The slabby pavement crystal fragments strew ; 

Black floods of mire th' embroidered coat disgrace, 

And mud enwraps the honours of his face. 

The coaches, too, often got " set" in the " channels" 
that ran down the middle of the streets ; but a still worse 
danger was the unguarded excavation, or unlighted heap 
of stones, 

Where a dim gleam the paly lantern throws 

O'er the mid pavement, heapy rubbish grows, 

Or arched vaults their gaping jaws extend, 

Or the dark caves to common sewers descend. 

Oft, by the winds extinct, the signal lies, 

Or, smothered in the glimmering socket, dies, 
"Ere night has half roll'd round her ebon throne ; 
In the wide gulf, the shatter'd coach o'erthrown 

Sinks with the snorting steeds ; the reins are broke, 

And from the crackling axle flies the spoke. 

A pleasant picture, truly ! But it was not exaggerated : 
Smith, in his " History of Westminster," says that, in 


Saint Margaret' s-street, pales were "placed, four feet 
high, between the footpath and coach-road, to preserve 
the passengers from injury, and from being covered with 
the mud, which was splashed on all sides in abundance ;" 
and, up till 1750, the ways to the Houses of Parliament 
" were in so miserable a state, that fagots were thrown 
into the ruts on the days in which the king went to 
Parliament, to render the passage of the state coach more 

If such were the state of the streets of the metropolis, 
our readers will be curious to know what was the state of 
the country roads. Fortunately we are enabled to gratify- 
that curiosity, by quoting a complete survey of the roads 
made by Arthur Young, the agriculturist, in 1767; but, 
as there had, no doubt, even then, been great improve- 
ments effected in them, we will mention some circum- 
stances which will throw a little light upon their condition 
in the earlier part of the century. 

In December, 1703, Charles III., King of Spain, slept 
at Petworth, on his way from Portsmouth to Windsor, 
and Prince George of Denmark went to meet him there, 
by desire of the queen. In the narrative of the journey 
given by one of the prince's attendants, we find the fol- 
lowing curious particulars : 

" We set out at six in the morning, by torchlight, to 
go to Petworth, and did not get out of the coaches (save 
only when we were overturned, or stuck fast in the mire) till 
we arrived at our journey's end. 'Twas a hard service for 
the prince to sit fourteen hours in the coach that day, 
without eating anything, and passing through the worst 
ways I ever saw in my life. We were thrown but once 
indeed in going, but our coach which was the leading 
one and his highness's body coach would have suffered 


very much, if the nimble boors of Sussex had not fre- 
quently poised it or supported it with their shoulders from 
Godalming almost to Petworth ; and the nearer we ap- 
proached the duke's (Somerset) house the more inacces- 
sible it seemed to be. The last nine miles of the way cost 
us six hours to conquer them ; and, indeed, we had never 
done it if our good master had not several times lent us a 
pair of horses out of his own coach, whereby we were 
enabled -to trace out the way for him." On the next 
morning they returned from Petworth, by way of Guild- 
ford, to Windsor. But the attendant writes : "I saw 
him (the prince) no more till I found him at supper at 
Windsor, for there we were overturned (as we had been 
once before the same morning\ and broke our coach. My 
Lord Delaware had the same fate, and so had several 

This same road, from Petworth to Guildford, appears 
to have continued in this condition for some time after 
King Charles and Prince George of Denmark floundered 
through it, for, in the Courier newspaper of September the 
10th, 1824, we find the following anecdote : 

" In the time of Charles (surnamed the Proud), Duke 
of Somerset, who died in 1748, the roads in Sussex were 
in so bad a state that, in order to arrive at Guildford from 
Petworth, travellers were obliged to make for the nearest 
point of the great road leading from Portsmouth to 
London. This was a work of so much difficulty as to 
occupy the whole day, and the duke had a house at Guild- 
ford, which was regularly used us a resting-place for the 
night by any of his family travelling to London. A manu- 
script letter from the servant of the duke, dated from 
London, and addressed to another at Petworth, acquaints 
the latter that his grace intended to go from London 


thither on a certain day, and directs that 'the keepers 
and persons who knew the holes and the sloughs must 
come to meet his grace with lanthorns and long poles, to 
help him on his way.' " 

In 1726, Pope was upset only a mile from Twickenham, 
as he returned from Lord Bolingbroke's house at Dowley, 
in his lordship's coach-and-six, when, finding the bridge 
at Whitton broken down, he had to pass through the 
river, and the coach setting in a hole was overturned, and 
Pope " had like to have been drowned," as one of his friends 
writes in the peculiar phrase of the times. 

But, to return once more to the Sussex roads. Daniel De 
Foe, giving an account of his travels, under the title of "A 
Tour through Great Britain," by a Gentleman (London, 
1724), mentions in vol. i. (page 54, letter ii.) the follow- 
ing anecdotes, apropos of the roads of Sussex, in speak- 
ing of the " prodigious timber " of the county : 

" Sometimes I have seen one tree on a carriage which 
they call here a tug, drawn by two-and-twenty oxen; 
and, even then, this carried so little a way, and then 
thrown down and left for other tugs to take up and carry 
on, that sometimes it is two or three years before it gets 
to Chatham ; for, if once the rains come in, it stirs no 
more that year, and sometimes a whole summer is not dry 
enough to make the roads passable." 

And again : 

" Going to church at a country village not far from 
Lewes, I saw an ancient lady and a lady of very good 
quality, I assure you drawn to church in her coach with 
six oxen ; nor was it done in frolic or humour, but mere 
necessity, the way being so stiff and deep that no horses 
could go in it." 

But a more general estimate may be formed from the 


accounts left by Arthur] Young. His tour, which, as 
we have stated, was made in 1767, occupied six weeks, 
and comprehended all the central counties of England, 
starting from Norfolk and traversing Suffolk, Essex, 
Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Mon- 
mouthshire, Glamorganshire, Somersetshire, Wiltshire, 
and Hampshire. The work, containing a description of 
this tour in a series of letters, is full of curious agricultural 
and statistical information, and incidentally valuable, as 
containing an account of the turnpike roads at that period. 
The edition we are about to quote from is entitled " A 
Six Weeks' Tour through the Southern Counties of Eng- 
land and Wales," in one volume octavo. a London : 
Printed for William Nicholl, at the Paper Mill in St. 
Paul's Churchyard, 1768." 

From among his miscellaneous remarks we pick out the 
following passages, which lie scattered through the volume, 
in allusion to the state of the several roads over which he 
passed. The only ones of which he could give anything 
like a favourable report, appear to have been " that from 
Salisbury to the other side of Winchester," " the Great 
North-road to Barnet," " the Kentish-road," the roads to 
Chelmsford in Essex, and to Uxbridge, and " the eighteen 
miles of finished road from Cowbridge, in Glamorgan- 
shire, to six miles on this side Cardiff;" but, "as to all 
the rest, it is a prostitution of language to call them turn- 
pikes. I rank them nearly in the same class with the 
dark lanes from Billericay to Tilbury Fort. Among the 
bad ones, however, some parts of the road from Tetsford 
to Gloucester are much better than the unmended parts 
from Gloucester to the good road above mentioned. The 
latter is all terrible ; much more to be condemned is the 
execrable muddy road from Bury to Sudbury, in which I 


was forced to move as slow as in any unmended lane in 
Wales, for ponds of liquid dirt, and a scattering of loose 
flints, just sufficient to lame every horse that moves near 
them. As to Norfolk and her natural roads, the boast of 
the inhabitants, who repeat with vanity the saying of 
Charles II., all that I have to remark is, that I know not 
one mile of excellent road in the whole county." (Pages 
248 to 251.) 

Of the road from Billericay to Tilbury Fort, which our 
author seems to have borne painfully in mind, he speaks 
in hearty disgust: 

" Of all the cursed roads that ever disgraced this king- 
dom in the very ages of barbarism, none ever equalled 
that from Billericay to the King's Head at Tilbury. It is 
for near ten miles so narrow that a mouse cannot pass by 
any carriage. I saw a fellow creep under his waggon to 
assist me to lift, if possible, my chaise over a hedge. The 
ruts are of an incredible depth, and a pavement of dia- 
monds might as well be sought for as a quarter. The 
trees everywhere overgrow the road, so that it is totally 
impervious to the sun except at a few places. And, to add 
to the infamous circumstances that continually occur to 
plague a traveller, I must not forget the eternally meeting 
with chalk waggons, themselves frequently stuck fast, till 
a collection of them are in the same situation, and twenty 
or thirty horses may be tacked to each other, to draw 
them out one by one. After this description, will you, 
can you, believe me when I tell you that a turnpike was 
much solicited for by some gentlemen, to lead from 
Chelmsford to the fort at Tilbury Fort, but opposed by 
the bruins of this country, whose horses are torn in pieces 
with bringing chalk through these vile roads ; and yet in 
this tract are found farmers who cultivate above a thou- 


sand (pounds) a year, but are perfectly contented with 
their roads." (Pages 72 and 73.) 

Pardoning what sounds like a Jonathanism of the 
eighteenth century, that the loose flints on the Sudbury 
road were sufficient to lame " every horse that moves 
near them" the assertion that on the Tilbury road "a 
mouse cannot pass by any carriage," is pretty well borne 
out by the fact that the waggoner whom our traveller 
met could not pass by his own, but had to creep under 
it in order to reach him, and help him with his chaise 
over a hedge while the cart went by. It must have been, 
we may presume, no wider for some considerable distance 
either way, otherwise one of the vehicles would have been 
backed out, and the desperate alternative had recourse to 
might have been obviated. From his ridicule of the 
short-sightedness of " the bruins of the country," it would 
appear that Essex deserved in the eighteenth the reputa- 
tion it enjoys in the nineteenth century, of being the 
Bosotia of England; and that the " Essex calves" were as 
adverse to improvement, and as ignorant and indifferent, 
then as now. 

But our author has not yet done with Essex : 
"I found upon a journey I took from this place" (Chelms- 
ford) " to Bury, that the road to Hedingham is excessive 
bad ; and from Sudbury to within two miles of Bury still 
worse. Their method of mending the last-mentioned road 
I found excessively absurd ; for, in nine parts out of ten, 
the sides are higher than the middle ; and the gravel they 
bring in is nothing but a yellow loam with a few stones 
in it, through which the wheels of a light chaise cut as 
easily as in sand, with the addition of such floods of 
watery mud as render this road on the whole inferior" 


(query, superior ?) " to nothing but an unraended Welsh 
lane." (Page 2 11.) 

But we must not allow our traveller to expose the 
whole truth about the Essex men and their roads it 
would be too unkind ; besides, they are pretty well known 
and estimated at the present day. Let us hear what he 
has to say of the roads in the other home counties of 
Buckinghamshire, for example: 

" From Wycombe to Stoke the turnpike road declined 
greatly; insomuch that I could scarcely believe myself in 
one, for, near Tetford, they mend entirely of stone dug 
out of the hills, which are like quarries, and are in large 
flakes, so that in those places that are just mended the 
horse hobbles over them as if afraid of breaking his legs," 
(Page 88.) 

" So much for Buckingham." Oxfordshire has no 
better roads ; they seem to have been, in fact, much 
worse : 

"The road" (from Tetford to Oxford) "is called, by a 
vile prostitution of language, a turnpike, but christened, I 
apprehend, by people who know not what a road is. It 
is all of chalk-stones, of which loose ones are everywhere 
rolling about to lame the horses. It is full of holes and 
ruts, very deep, and withal so narrow, that I with diffi- 
culty got my chair out of the way of the Witney waggons 
and various machines perpetually passing. The tolls are 
very dear, and vilely unreasonable, considering the bad- 
ess of the roads." (Page 90.) .... "This road" (from 
Witney to North Leach) " is, I think, the worst turnpike 
I ever travelled in so bad that it is a scandal to the 
country. They mend and make with nothing but the 
stone, which forms the understratum, all over, quite from 


Tetford to the other side of Oxford. This stone, which 
rises in vast flakes, would make an admirable foundation 
for a surface of gravel, but, by using it alone and in pieces 
as large as one's head, the road is rendered most exe- 
crable." (Page 101.) 

We cannot wonder at the frequency of such accidents 
as the escort of Prince George of Denmark met with, on 
such roads as these, where the chaise-wheels had to roll 
over stones u as large as one's head" we can only wonder 
how the horses ever got over them. Here is another 
splendid road in Gloucestershire : 

u I was infinitely surprised to find the same stony, hard, 
rough, and cursed roads, miscalled turnpikes, all the way 
from Gloucester to Newnham, which is twelve miles. It 
is all a narrow lane, and most infamously stony. It is the 
same stone as the other side of the Severn, but much 
harder, and, consequently, more jolting and cutting to the 
horses' feet : nor is it so much a level, but ruts all the 
way." (Page 111.) 

It is quite a relief to hear that there was a good road in 
England at this time, after one has made his head and 
bones ache with the mere contemplation of these horrors. 
Here is one running through parts of Wiltshire and 
Hampshire : 

" The road from Salisbury to Romsey, and the first 
four miles from thence to Winchester, I found so remark- 
ably good that I made particular inquiries concerning 
their making and mending it. It is many miles as level, 
as firm, and as free from loose stones as the finest garden- 
walk I ever beheld, and yet the traffic on it is very great 
by waggons, but scarcely the print of a wheel to be seen, 
and I really believe there was not a loose stone to make a 
horse stumble nineteen miles from Salisbury." (Page 172.) 


But as he approached Wales, the hills began to trouble 

" From Newnham to Chepstow, the road continues ex- 
cessively stony, and made in the same vile manner as that 
from Gloucester. In many places the road is so very 
narrow, that my chaise with difficulty got through it 
without rising on the banks. There is one circumstance 
which would render the best turnpike in England ex- 
tremely bad to travel, and that is the perpetual hills, for 
you will form a clear idea of them if you suppose the" (face 
of the) "country to represent the roofs of houses joined, and 
the road to run across them." (Page 113.) .... "But, 
my dear sir, what am I to say to the roads in this country 
the turnpikes, as they have the assurance to call them, 
and the hardiness to make one pay for ? From Chepstow 
to the half-way house, between Newport and Cardiff, 
they continue mere rocky lanes, full of hugeous stones as 
big as one's horse, and abominable holes. The first from 
Newport were so detestable, without either direction-posts 
or mile-stones, that I could not persuade myself that I was 
on a turnpike, but had mistook the road, and therefore 
asked every one I met, who answered, to my astonish- 
ment, < Ye-as.' " (Pages 120 and 121.) 

In another edition of his Tour, in which he describes 
the state of the road between Preston and Wigan, in 
1770, he cannot restrain his anger: 

" I know not, in the whole range of language, terms 
sufficiently expressive to describe this infernal highway. 
Let me most seriously caution all travellers who may acci- 
dentally propose to travel this terrible country, to avoid it 
as they would the devil, for a thousand to one but they 
break their necks or their limbs by overthrows or break- 
ings down. They will here meet with ruts which I ac- 


tually measured four feet deep, and floating with mud 
only from a wet summer!" "What!" he cries, holding 
up his hands, and shuddering at the thought, " what must 
it, therefore, be in winter?" Ugh! 

If he had pushed as far as North Wales, he would 
have found, even at that period, excellent roads, when the 
mountainous character of the country was taken into con- 
sideration. But we could have wished he had visited 
Lincolnshire, so that we might have heard what kind of 
roads that county then had. We suspect they must have 
been very bad indeed ; or else they have since degenerated 
instead of improving. From the accounts, however, 
which he has given us, it will be observed that not the 
slightest care was bestowed upon the roads, either in pro- 
viding suitable materials to mend them, when such mate- 
rials were not already upon the spot, or to make the most 
of what the country afforded, and to turn it to the best 

The general state of the high-roads appears, then, to 
have been even worse than that of the cross-roads and 
by-lanes of Essex, Suffolk, and Surrey, at the present 
time. It will also be observed, that the few portions of 
good road described are in counties where the land is very 
poor and light, and vice versa, thus literally making good 
the old English proverb, " There is^ good land where 
there is foul way." 

A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine of December, 
1757, complains sadly of "the new turnpike road" from 
Godalming. On starting from Petworth, he has to pass 
" through a street about two hundred yards long, full of 
deep holes, and a precipice on one side of the street," and 
although on passing through a turnpike-gate he proceeds 
upon " a firm road," it is only " full wide enough for any 


single cart, but by no means wide enough for two, so that 
whenever two meet, the one must drive down into the 
mud at the side of the bank, and, as there were no ditches 
nor drains to carry off the standing waters from those 
flats, they must soon be worse than the old clay roads." 
A fearful "trench, or ditch," crosses "the whole road 
from side to side about half a mile from the gate." But 
the worst predicament our traveller got into was at North 
Chappel, five miles from Petworth, where, the road being 
soaked with a previous shower, " it took my horse up to 
the belly the second step he made on it, and, had I not 
immediately dismounted and clambered up to some bushes, 
I had there been lodged for a season." 

This reminds us of the case of a medical man who had 
occasion to take a by-road, abounding in bogs and quag- 
mires, in an obscure part of Essex. Having arrived at 
one of the bogs in which his horse sank deeper at every 
step, he called to a boy at a distant farm, and inquired 
whether there was a good bottom. The reply was in the 
affirmative, but as he progressed, he found that himself 
and his steed were likely to be soon swallowed up in the 
bog, which continued to get deeper, and he indignantly 
cried out, " I thought you said there was a good bottom 
to this road?" " So there is," replied the urchin, " but 
you have not come to it yet." We presume the same reply 
would have been given to the correspondent of the Gen- 
tleman's Magazine (who, by the way, ventured to make 
his journey "after September" upon being assured that 
there was a turnpike road), and, as he scrambled to some 
bushes with his horse up to the belly in the mire, it might 
have been some consolation to him to know that there 
was a turnpike road, but he had not come to it yet ! 

But nearly all the information we possess of the state 


of the roads in the eighteenth century, is of a period 
when great improvements had been effected, both in the 
making and mending of them, and the greater part of it 
relates to the turnpike and great leading roads only. 
What they had been at an earlier period of the century, 
or what the by-roads were at that time, we have no means 
of ascertaining, but we may form a pretty correct conjec- 
ture, we dare say, of the tremendous difficulties which the 
traveller by them had to encounter. What we know is 
sufficient to help us to a guess at what we do not know, in 
connexion with this subject. 





HAVING taken a glimpse at the state of the roads 
during the last century, it behoves us next to see what 
manner of vehicles were constructed for traversing them, 
and how they were contrived to resist the sudden shocks, 
and withstand the jerking and jolting occasioned by such 
trifling inequalities as ruts four feet deep, and sloughs of 
mud up to the horses' bellies. That they could not travel 
very fast must be at once apparent, but the speed to which 
they did attain seems wonderful when we consider the 
obstacles in their way. Swift, in his Journal, mentions 
travelling from Wycombe to Hyde Park-corner, the dis- 
tance of twenty-seven miles, in five hours, but this was no 
doubt by post or private conveyance, for the government 
expresses did not travel so expeditiously. " An fcq>ress 
for his majesty was carried, July 7th (1717), fromy^on- 
don at half-past two A.M., and arrived at .East GrinsVad 
at half-past three P.M.," to the great astonishment, no 
doubt, of the country ! 

A few announcements of the coach-proprietors, taken 
from various periods, will throw some light upon this 
branch of our subject. In 1839 (and possibly to this 
hour), a printed card, framed and glazed, was preserved 

ic 2 


over the bar of the Black Swan Inn, at York, giving 
notice that 

"Your four days' coach begins on Friday, the 12th 
April, 1706. All that are desirous to pass from London 
to York, or to any other place on that road, in this expe- 
ditious manner, let them repair to the Black Swan in 
Holbourne, in London, and to the Black Swan in Coney- 
street, York. At both places they may be received in a 
stage-coach, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 
which actually performs the whole journey in the short 
space of four daies (if God permit) ! The coach sets forth 
at five o'clock in the morning, and returns from York 
to Stamford, by Huntingdon, to London, in two daies 
more, allowing passengers 14lbs. weight, and all above 3d. 
per Ib." 

A weary pilgrimage must it have been from Edin- 
burgh to London: 

" 9TH MAY, 1734. A coach will set out towards the 
end of next week for London, or any place on the road. 
To be performed in nine days, being three days sooner 
than any other coach that travels the road, for which pur- 
pose eight stout horses are stationed at proper distances." 

At this period night-travelling was not thought of: it 
was sufficiently hazardous to travel by day, and so great an 
undertaking was it considered, that, about 1720, a lady 
(Mrs. Manley) published a book of travels, under the title 
of " A Stage Coach Journey from London to Exeter," 
which informs us that the coach started from London at 
three o'clock in the morning. At ten the exhausted 
travellers were allowed to alight and take their dinner at 
a road-side inn ; and at three o'clock in the afternoon the 
journey was concluded for the day, and the coach drawn 
into the inn-yard till next morning. This journey from 


London occupied four days of twelve hours each; so that, 
with a fair allowance for stoppages and meal-times, the 
coach could scarcely have travelled at the rate of four 
miles and a half in the hour. But if a Sunday inter- 
vened on the journey, the passengers were detained for 
the day in the town at which it chanced to find them, no 
stage-coaches being allowed to travel on the Sabbath. 
With these impediments, our readers will not be surprised 
to hear that, in 1 745, the coach from Edinburgh to Lon- 
don, "the Northern Diligence, a huge, old-fashioned 
tub, drawn by three horses," according to Sir Walter 
Scott, performed its journey (" God willing," as the bills 
had it) in the moderate space of three weeks ! 

The arrangements for " sleeping the passengers" were 
always announced in the bills, thus : 

" Manchester Machine, from the Swan with Two Necks, 
in two days; on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. 
Sleep at Derby. 

" Sheffield and Manchester, from ditto ; same days, in 
two days. Sleep at Nottingham. 

" Gloucester Post Coach, in one day. Carries four in * 
and one out." 

But, in 1 740, an apparition appeared upon the road by 
night in the shape of a night-coach; but the desperate 
enterprise seems to have been but little favoured at first, 
and, as late as the 8th of March, 1774, we find a post-coach 
started " to go from the Rose and Crown, in St. John's- 
street, London ; to run every Tuesday, Thursday, and 
Sunday; putting up, first day at Grantham, second day at 
York, and third day at Newcastle ; to carry six inside and 
two out;" the journey performed by nineteen proprietors 
on the line of road. And, in 1760, the passengers to 
Brighton were detained for the night at East Grinstead 


(thirty miles from London), where the coach put up, ar- 
riving at Brighton in the afternoon of the day after its 
departure from town. 

In ] 760, a coach started from London for Liverpool 
once a week, and accomplished the journey in four days; 
and, in 1765, a " flying-coach" ran to Dover in one day. 
This prodigy was drawn by eight horses. But even the 
Dover machines, with six horses, excited a sort of awe at 
this period by their speed. A French traveller, a Mr. 
Grosley, who travelled by one of them to London, says of 
them, " They are drawn by six horses, go twenty-eight 
leagues a day, from Dover to London, for a single guinea. 
Servants are entitled to a place for half that money, either 
behind the coach or upon the coach-box, which has three 

Among a list of the terrific achievements of the coaches, 
starting from the Swan with Two Necks, in London, in 
April, 1774, we select the following as examples: 

" A Post-Coach to Gloucester, in sixteen hours, and a 
Machine in one day, each three days a week. A Machine 
to Hereford twice a week, in a day and a half. A Ma- 
chine to Salop every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 
in two days. A Machine for Wolverhampton every Sun- 
day, Tuesday, and Thursday, in one day." 

The bill winds up with the following startling notice : 

" The Rumsey Machine, through Winchester, hung on 
steel springs, begins flying on the 3rd of April, from Lon- 
don to Poole, in one day !" 

The Daily Advertiser, of April 9, 1739, furnishes us 
with several characteristic announcements, from among 
which we may quote the following : 

" FOR BATH. A good Coach and able Horses will set 


out from the Black Swan Inn, in Holborn, on Wednesday 
or Thursday. Inquire of William Maud." 

" The old-standing, constant Froom Flying Waggon, 
in three days, sets out with goods and passengers, from 
Froom for London, every Monday, by one o'clock in the 
morning, and will be at the King's Arms, at Holborn 
Bridge, the Wednesday following, by twelve o'clock at 
noon, from whence it will set out on Thursday morning, 
by one o'clock, for Amesbury, Shrewton, Chiltern, Hey- 
tesbury, Warminster, Froom, and all other places adjacent; 
and will continue, allowing each passenger fourteen pounds, 
and be at Froom on Saturday by twelve at noon. If any 
passengers have occasion to go from any of the aforesaid 
places, they shall be supplied with able horses and a guide 
by Joseph Clavey, the proprietor of the said Flying Wag- 
gon. The Waggon calls at the White Bear, in Picca- 
dilly, coming in and going out, &c." 

The general construction of these vehicles is thus de- 
scribed in the " Tales of an Antiquary :" 

" They were principally of a dull black leather, thickly 
studded, by way of ornament, with black broad-headed 
nails, tracing out the panels, in the upper tier of which 
were four oval windows, with heavy red wooden frames, 
or leathern curtains. Upon the doors, also, were displayed, 
in large characters, the names of the places whence the 
coach started and whither it went, stated in quaint and 
antique language. The vehicles themselves varied in 
shape ; sometimes they were like a distiller's vat, some- 
what flattened, and hung equally balanced between the 
immense back and front springs. In other instances they 
resembled a violoncello case, which was, past all compari- 
son, the most fashionable form : and then they hung in a 
more genteel posture, namely, inclining on to the back 


springs, and giving to those who sat within the appear- 
ance of a stiff Guy Fawkes uneasily seated. The roofs of 
the coaches, in most cases, rose into a swelling curve, 
which was sometimes surrounded by a high iron guard. 
The coachman and the guard, who always held his car- 
bine ready-cocked upon his knee, then sat together over 
a very long and narrow boot, which passed under a large 
spreading hammercloth, hanging down on all sides, and 
finished with a flowing and most luxuriant fringe. Behind 
the coach was the immense basket, stretching far and wide 
beyond the body, to which it was attached by long iron 
bars or supports passing beneath it, though even these 
seemed scarcely equal to the enormous weight with which 
they were frequently loaded. These baskets were, how- 
ever, never very great favourites, although their difference 
of price caused them to be frequently well filled. The 
wheels of these old carriages were large, massive, ill- 
formed, and usually of a red colour, and the three horses 
that were affixed to the whole machine the foremost of 
which was helped onwards by carrying a huge long- 
legged elf of a postilion, dressed in a cocked-hat, with a 
large green and gold riding-coat were so far parted, by 
the great length of their traces, that it was with no little 
difficulty that the poor animals dragged their unwieldy 
burden along the road. It groaned and creaked at every 
fresh tug which they gave it, as a ship, rocking or beating- 
up against a heavy sea, strains all her timbers, with a 
low moaning sound, as she drives over the contending 

This description agrees in most of its details with the 
stage-coach exhibited in Hogarth's " Country Inn Yard," 
except that the guard in the latter bears a sword instead 
of a carbine, and the postilion is a dwarf-boy, not a " huge 


long-legged elf," nor so elegantly caparisoned as the writer 
describes. In the " Night" of the same artist we have a 
similar picture of a " flying coach," upset by a bonfire on 
the Fifth of November; and, in the series of the "Election," 
are specimens of carriages " inclining on to the back 
springs," which gives them the appearance of having 
broken down. 

A writer in the Monthly Magazine of October, 1822, 
gives a description of the old stage-coaches of his early days, 
and, in particular, mentions one the " Hope" which 
ran to Sheffield somewhere about 1780, previously to the 
great improvement introduced by Mr. John Palmer in 
1784. We shall quote his remarks, as he enters upon the 
subject of the old crane-necked springs: 

" The coach consisted, first, of the boot, a tall, clumsy, 
turret-like mass, on the top of which the coachman sat, 
that was erected on, and, without the intervention of any 
springs, was fixed on the fore axletree of the carriage; 
second, of an enormous wicker basket, in like manner 
fixed on the hind axletree ; and, third, between these 
masses, the coach body was suspended by thick straps 
from four of what are now, for distinction's sake, called 
crane-necked springs. The roads were, at the period 
alluded to, in general, rough, sloughy, and uneven, and 
occasioned a degree of jolting and tossing about of the 
three distinct masses of which a stage-coach then consisted, 
such as those can scarcely conceive who may have seen 
only the modern coaches constructed of one piece, and 
resting on what are called grasshopper springs, so con- 
trived and placed, that the jerk occasioned to either of the 
wheels by coming in contact with a projecting stone, or 
by momentarily sinking into a hole in the road, is re- 
ceived by, and equalised amongst four or more springs, 


which act, not on a single corner of the coach as the crane- 
necked springs used to do." 

Such coaches as these unwieldy, ill-balanced, and fre- 
quently over- weighted on the roof drawn by such horses, 
and travelling such roads, were constantly meeting with 
accidents overthrows, breakings down, or stickings fast. 
But these were not the only, and scarcely the worst dan- 
gers to be dreaded ; the significant hint about the guard's 
ready-cocked carbine, and the comfortable assurance with 
which the coach bills wound up of " each of these con- 
veyances being well guarded," tell of another peril the 
highwaymen by whom the roads were infested. So des- 
perate were these banditti, that, sometimes single-handed, 
they would attack a coach, and, despite the guard's car- 
bine, rob the affrighted passengers of their property. 
Here are instances, and* we might fill our pages with 
similar ones: 

" Tuesday evening, two of the Greenwich stages were 
stopped in Kent-street-road by a single highwayman, who 
robbed the passengers of their money, &c." London 
Evening Post, May 7th, 1774. 

"A few days ago the Ryegate coach was stopped a 
little way out of town by a single highwayman, who 
robbed the passengers of thirty pounds." Westminster 
Journal, October 29th, 1774. 

" Friday night, the Epping stage-coach was robbed on 
the forest, within a mile of the town, 'by two highwaymen, 
well mounted and masked ; they robbed one inside pas- 
senger of half a guinea ; they swore bitterly that one of 
the outside passengers, whom they pointed at, had been 
that day to receive twenty pounds, and if he did not im- 
mediately deliver tbe money he was a dead man. The 
poor man declaring that he had no such sum, one of them 


struck him a violent blow across the wrist with the butt- 
end of his whip, and, after telling the coachman he had a 

set of d d poor passengers, gave him a shilling, and 

rode off." Old British Spy, January 4th, 1783. 

We have, selected these from among a host of such 
paragraphs which every old newspaper presents, but one 
of the most daring of these outrages was committed on 
the " Devizes chaise" on the 3rd of June, 1 752, by a 
single highwayman, near the Half-way House at Knights- 
bridge. The evidence of the man who captured the 
robber gives a graphic account of the affray. 

" William Norton examined The chaise to the Devizes 
having been robbed two or three times, as I was informed, 
I was desired to go in it to see if I could take the thief, 
which I did on the 3rd of June, about half an hour after 
one in the morning. I got into the chaise ; the postboy 
told me the place where he had been stopped was near 
the Half-way House, between Knightsbridge and Ken- 
sington. As we came near the house, the prisoner came 
to us on foot, and said, f Driver, stop !' He held a pistol 
tinderbox to the chaise, and said, ' Your money directly ! 
You must not stay this minute your money !' I said, 
i Don't frighten us; I have but a trifle you shall have 
it.' Then I said to the gentlemen (there were three in 
the chaise), ' Give your money.' I took out a pistol from 
my coat-pocket, and from my breeches-pocket a five- 
shilling piece and a dollar. I held the pistol concealed in 
one hand and the money in the other. I held the money 
pretty hard. He said,. ' Put it in my hat.' I let him take 
the five-shilling piece out of my hand, and, as soon as he 
had taken it, I snapped my pistol at him : it did not go 
off. He staggered back, and held up his hands, and said, 
' Oh, Lord ! oh, Lord !' I jumped out of the chaise; he 


ran away, and I after him, about six or seven hundred 
yards, and then took him. I hit him a blow on his back; 
he begged for mercy on his knees : I took his handker- 
chief off and tied his hands with it, and brought him back 
to the chaise ; then I told the gentlemen in the chaise 
that was the errand I came upon, and wished them a good 
journey, and brought the prisoner to London. 

u Question by the prisoner Ask him how he lives? 

" Norton I keep a shop in Wych-street, and some- 
times I take a thief." 

Not the least remarkable feature of this affair is that 
this footpad, who did not hesitate in stopping a chaise 
with five individuals in it, ran away on having a pistol 
presented at him, which, after all, " did not go off," and 
merely crying, "Oh, Lord! oh, Lord!" allowed himself 
to be taken by a single man. If the postboy and passen- 
gers had shown some resolution on the first occasion, the 
chaise would, one would think, not have been stopped 
" two or three times," or on the last and decisive one. It 
is not impossible that the coachmen might in some in- 
stances, as the charioteers of Mexico at the present day, 
have had a proper understanding with these freebooters 
but we will not indulge these uncharitable thoughts: 
coachmen were always proverbially honest ! 

Of the stage-waggons, which were the only means of 
transit for poorer passengers, we have said as yet little, 
and nothing of the pack-horses, which in Roderick Ran- 
dom's time (1739) formed the only goods conveyance in 
Scotland. By one of the former, Random and his friend 
Strap were conveyed to London from Newcastle-upon- 
Tyne, in somewhere about a fortnight, for the moderate 
fare of ten shillings, his fellow-passengers being an aged 
usurer, a lady of pleasure, and a captain in the army 


with his wife a combination of characters and conditions 
which would seem to argue that the company by these con- 
veyances was somewhat mixed. 

Of the metropolitan conveyances, hackney-coaches or 
sedan-chairs were the only vehicles in which the streets of 
London could be traversed, as there were few short stages 
even to the immediate suburbs, and none at all from one 
part of the city to the other ; in fact, London was then 
scarcely extensive enough to require a public conveyance 
from the heart of it to the outlying districts, or even from 
the east to the west ends. In unfavourable weather, and 
for short distances or state visits, the chair was the favou- 
rite vehicle, carried, as we have already described, by two 
stout Irishmen, and of which the fares, in 1 724, were one 
shilling per hour, or a guinea if rented by the week. 
Hackney-coaches almost belong to our own time; but 
only in name : their glory departed with the progress of 
improvement in the paving, draining, and lighting of the 
town. They were generally worn-out gentlemen's car- 
riages many of them retaining on their panels the richly 
emblazoned and coroneted armorial bearings of their ori- 
ginal possessors drawn by a pair of wretched horses, and 
driven by a many-caped and heavy-coated Jehu. These 
old hackney-coachmen, to the full as extortionate as 
modern cabmen, presumed upon the impunity which a 
defective system of police had so long secured to outrage, 
and were desperate characters as any on the road. Pas- 
sengers in private conveyances dreaded meeting a hackney- 
coachman almost as much as encountering a highwayman; 
for we find that, in 1733, a combination or conspiracy 
existed among them for upsetting all private carriages of 
any description which they might meet, under the pre- 
tence of an accidental collision, as they considered it as a 


crying grievance, and detrimental to their interests, that 
people should be allowed to ride in their own vehicles in- 
stead of hiring a hackney-coach. A regular fee was 
established by this body for every carriage upset, or, as it 
was termed, " brought by the road ;" and a premium held 
out to all postboys, postilions, grooms, and coachmen who 
assisted them in the destruction of their masters' carriages ; 
and if they aided in effecting a collision by driving pur- 
posely in the way, with the perfect appearance of its being 
accidental, or attributable to the restiveness of the horses, 
or what not, or allowed themselves to be overtaken and 
upset, they were compensated for injury, defended from 
prosecution, and paid for the "job" out of the General 
Coachmasters' Fund. The Weekly Register of December 
the 8th, 1733, gives an account of a hard chase given by 
one of the body to a chaise and pair, which he pursued 
from Knightsbridge to beyond Brentford, where he con- 
trived to upset it, and escape ! 

But there were still other dangers attendant upon 
hackney-coach travelling, and they were no more free 
from the attacks of highwaymen than stage-coaches, 
although they seldom went far beyond the streets of 
London. The Postman of October the 19th, 1729, de- 
plores the decline of the hackney-coach business, " by 
the increase of street robbers ; so that people, especially in 
an evening (the use of the word " especially" would lead 
us to infer that there was danger even in the daytime), 
" choose rather to walk than ride in a coach, on account 
that they are in a readier posture to defend themselves, or 
call out for aid, if attacked." 

There was also another kind of depredation practised 
upon hackney-coach travellers, against which the Weekly 
Journal of the 30th of March, 1717, thus cautions them: 


" The thieves have got now such a villanous way of rob- 
bing gentlemen, that they cut holes through the backs of 
hackney-coaches, and take away their wigs, or the fine 
head-dresses of gentlewomen ; so a gentleman was served 
last Sunday in Tooley-street, and another but last Tuesday 
in Fenchurch-street ; wherefore this may serve as a caution 
to gentlemen and gentlewomen that ride single in the 
night time, to sit on the fore-seat, which will prevent that 
way of robbing." 

As the ladies' wigs were technically called " heads," it 
must have sounded strange to hear some disconsolate 
beauty, on arriving home from a ball, complain that she 
had " lost her head." We should be tempted to reply, it 
was no more than we had conjectured ever since she had 
taken to a false one. 

The "silent highway," as Mr. Knight has happily 
called the river Thames, was a favoured thoroughfare for 
the barges and pleasure-boats of the fashionable world, 
for many of the nobility had not yet discarded their 
" state-barges," as Sir Roger de Coverley's expression 
shows us : " If I was a lord or bishop, and kept a barge, 
I would not put a fellow in my livery that had not a 
wooden leg." And no other road was thought of by fhe 
elite for reaching Vauxhall, or even passing to Chelsea, 
but the water. Probably this may be partly attributable 
to the dangers by which the roads were beset; but, be 
that as it may, there were risks even to be encountered on 
this " silent highway," for, although, for a wonder, we 
do not remember to have heard of very many river- 
pirates or water-highwaymen, the boatmen contrived to 
make the journey sufficiently uncomfortable, especially to 
such of their passengers as they might discover to be pos- 
sessed of weak nerves, by playing off mischievous tricks 


and pranks for the purpose of frightening them, and which 
often put their own lives in jeopardy. Daniel De Foe, 
in his "Great Law of Subordination" (1724), says that 
he had " many times passed between London and Graves- 
end with these fellows ;" and, after describing their con- 
duct, and on one particular occasion the loss of a tilt-boat 
with fifty-two passengers, which resulted from their fool- 
hardiness and " larking" propensities, adds, " I have been 
sometimes obliged, especially when there have been more 
men in the boat of the same mind, so that we have been 
strong enough for them, to threaten to cut their throats, 
to make them hand their sails and keep under shore, not 
to fright, as well as hazard the lives of their passengers 
where there was no need of it." The fact was, no doubt, 
as he suggests, " that the less frighted and timorous their 
passengers are, the more cautious and careful the water- 
men are, and the least apt to run into danger ; whereas, 
if their passengers appear frighted, then the watermen 
grow saucy and audacious, show themselves venturous, and 
contemn the dangers which they are really exposed to." 

The fares by the Gravesend boats, in 1724, were an- 
nounced to be " by tilt-boat, sixpence" (the " tilt-boat" 
was so called from its having a tilt spread over the pas- 
sengers) ; " by wherry, one shilling," the wherry being 
the faster and more select conveyance. These are two 
more instances of the moderate fares charged by public 
conveyances in the early part of the century ; as the ac- 
commodation, expedition, and safety were increased, the 
prices were raised in even a greater ratio, till now, when 
those essentials to pleasure or business travelling are 
nearest to perfection, the prices have dropped down to 
their original rate. 

The Chelmsford Chronicle of December the 3rd, 1784, 


hints dismally at the doings in the dark on the " silent 
highway," and at the existence of a race more to be feared 
even than the Gravesend boatmen : " The merchants 
have hired twenty stout men armed with blunderbusses, 
pistols, &c., to row in boats up and down the river all 
night, in order to protect their shipping from being plun- 
dered by the fresh-water pirates." 

How suggestive is this paragraph of awful scenes by 
night on that dark thoroughfare, the Thames then un- 
crossed and unlighted by the numerous new bridges of 
midnight murder, the death-struggle, and the last heavy 
splash in which the record of the deed is washed out, and 
the victim of the river-pirates sent floating down the river, 
if found, only to be a doubt to a coroner's jury as to how 
he came there ! 

A sea voyage was an undertaking of the greatest peril. 
Novel introductions into the art and science of navigation 
have disarmed it of many of the terrors that then hung 
about it. At the time we would speak of, even the baro- 
meter was not employed to give the warning of a coming 
tempest in time to prepare the ship to meet it. Enemies 
and pirates were on every sea, besides " dealers in the con- 
traband," almost as troublesome ; there were fewer light- 
houses, and many shoals, rocks, sands, and dangerous 
places had to be discovered, perhaps only at the cost of 
some hundreds of lives, and laid down in the charts. 
What troubles befel poor Mrs. Sterne in her attempt to 
cross over only to Ireland ! Following the fortunes of her 
husband (the father of " Yorick"), she had occasion to 
make two journeys across the Channel, both of which ap- 
pear to have nearly cost her her life, especially the second 
one, which is well calculated to show the uncertain state 
of communication between parts now not a day's journey 



asunder. " We embarked," says Sterne, in his " Sketch 
of his own Life," "for Dublin, and had all been cast 
away by a most violent storm ; but, through the interces- 
sions of my mother, the captain was prevailed upon to 
turn back into Wales, where we stayed a month, and at 
length got into Dublin, and travelled by land to Wicklow, 
where my father had, for some weeks, given us over for 




THE " Science of Astrology," although its most flou- 
rishing time had passed, still enthralled the unilluminated 
brains of our grandsires in its mystic signs and hierogly- 
phical calculations, and there were many gifted beings 
who amassed large fortunes by " casting nativities" for 
those who had an overweening curiosity to peep into the 
future, and an unlimited confidence in planetary in- 

The Universal Magazine of February, 1775, tells us of 
one of these cunning seers who allowed himself to be 
robbed while he was " stargazing :" 

"January \Qth. Saturday evening. A woman ap- 
plied to a resolver of lawful questions in a court in Fleet- 
street, to be satisfied in relation to some future events ; 
but while poor Albumazer was consulting the stars in his 
chamber in order to resolve her doubts, he seems to have 
been utterly ignorant of his own present fortune, for some 
thieves (supposed to be the inquirer's confederates) stripped 
his other apartments of everything that was conveniently 

A peep is afforded us into the chamber of one of these 


worthies in an old print of 1760, as well as in the de- 
scription of Cadwallader's imposition in Smollett's " Pere- 
grine Pickle." In the former, the floor is strewed with 
books, globes, telescopes, compasses, &c., in those days 
objects of wonder and even fear to the vulgar; and the 
walls hung with skeletons of lizards, bats, toads, moles, 
owls, alligators, and serpents, while snakes and abortions 
of the human foetus are preserved in spirits in gigantic 
jars, and a huge black cat sits gravely blinking on the 
table. In the midst of this imposing display, calculated 
to inspire awe and terror into the rash diver into Fortune's 
secrets, sits the astrologer, magician, wizard, and fortune- 
teller, a lean, grizzly man, with a long flowing white 
beard, as would become a prophet ; his head encased in a 
tight-fitting black velvet or fur cap, and his spare body en- 
wrapped in a long black gown. A volume of symbols is 
open before him, which he is consulting by the aid of a 
pair of spectacles, which add to the appearance of deep 
study which his furrowed brow would indicate, and by 
his side lie open a book of mathematical problems, and a 
scroll covered with strange Egyptian characters. This 
portrait, we believe, represents an astrologer who resided 
in the Old Bailey, and of whom it is reported that, while 
he was in the zenith of his fame, the thoroughfare was 
frequently rendered impassable by the number of car- 
nages waiting at his door, which had conveyed the 
nobility and gentry to have their " fortunes told." 

These astrologers seem to have haunted their old habi- 
tations after their death, if we read the following para- 
graph aright : 

"The 6 Flying Horse,' a noted victualling house in 
Moorfields, next to that of the late Astrologer Trotter, 
has been molested for several nights past, stones and 


bottles being thrown into the house, to the great annoy- 
ment and terror of the guests." News Letter, February 
28th, 1716. 

We will warrant the troubled spirit of Mr. Trotter was 
freely suspected of these midnight gambols. 

But astrologers were a doomed race they were rapidly 
decimating in number, and at the close of the century 
there was scarcely one left in London. " Prophets" and 
female fortune-tellers have struggled on, with a wonderful 
and persevering disregard of the law of vagrancy, to our 
own day, and there is still a publication carrying on a 
trade in astrology belonging to the Company of Sta- 
tioners; but little more than a century ago, they had 
dupes among the highest classes, and staunch supporters 
and believers in the middle and lower ones, who trusted 
implicitly to the predictions and awful revelations of their 
Almanacks, Diaries, and Messengers. Mr. Charles Knight 
gives us a long list of these productions in existence about 
the year 1723. There were: 

"Remarkable News from the Stars. By William 
Andrews, Student in Astrology. Printed by A. Wilde. 

" Merlinus Anglicus, Junior; or, the Starry Messenger. 
By Henry Coley, Student in the Mathematicks and the 
Celestial Sciences. Printed by J. Read. 

" A Diary, Astronomical, Astrological, Meteorological. 
By Job Gadbury, Student in Physick and Astrology. 
Printed by T. W. 

" Vox Stellarum. By Francis Moore, Licensed Phy- 
sician, and Student in Astrology. Printed by Thomas 

" Merlinus Liberatus. By John Partridge. Printed 
by J. Roberts. 

" Parker's Ephemeris. Printed by J. Read. 


"The Celestial Diary. By Salem Pearse, Student 
in Physick and Celestial Science. Printed by J. Dawkes. 

" Apollo Anglicanus, the English Apollo. By Richard 
Saunder, Student in the Physical and Mathematical 
Sciences. Printed by A. Wilde. 

" Great Britain's Diary; or, the Union Almanack. 
By the same Author. Printed by J. Roberts. 

" Olympia Domata. By John Wing Philomoth. 
Printed by J. Dawkes. 

" Wing. By the same Author. Printed by W. Pearson. 

" An Almanack, after the Old and New Fashion. By 
Poor Robin, Knight of the British Islands, a well-wisher 
to the Mathematicks. Printed by W. Bowyer." 

A rare treasury of marvels to come dangers hanging 
overhead, impending revolutions, threatened wars, ap- 
proaching plagues, and other wondrous shadows of the 
future, all cast by starlight on the pages of the astrologers ; 
for these almanacks and Merlins not only professed to 
predict the state of the weather for the ensuing twelve 
months, but accurately to foretel all public events and 
occurrences in the various countries of the earth, besides 
stating " the proper seasons for physick and blood-letting" 
(for it was then considered necessary to be " blooded" 
twice a year), and other most surprising information. 

It was one of the worthy astrologers we have enume- 
rated (John Partridge) who was rendered immortally ridi- 
culous by the prophecy of his approaching death, published 
by Dean Swift under the name of Isaac Bickerstaff, and 
followed up by an account of the fulfilment of the pro- 
phecy, so repeatedly indignantly protested against by 
poor Partridge, who continued, till he was weary, 
seriously assuring his friends that he was still alive, and 
the prophecy was false and unfulfilled. 


We have said the female fortune-tellers seemed to have 
been longer lived, for they have survived to the present 
century but how pale is their star ! how diminished their 
glory ! 

With the aid of a sheet of hieroglyphic characters, not 
much unsimilar to those still seen on the bottles containing 
various coloured liquids in the chemists' shop windows 
Chaldean, Assyrian, or what you pleased a pack of 
cards, the grounds of coffee, or the coals in the fire, these 
witch-like crones could, for half-a-crown, ensure a young 
lady a handsome husband for five shillings a rich one 
and for half a guinea both a rich and handsome one. As 
diverse as were their branches of science, as various their 
dupes. They were much consulted in aiding the recovery 
of stolen goods, and discovering (query, revealing 9) the 
places of their concealment a part of their profession in 
which they were no doubt able occasionally to be useful, 
if well fee'd. On the other hand, so credulous were those 
furthest removed from the darkness of ignorance, that 
George the First, on being told by a French professor of 
the art that he would not survive his wife's death a year, 
had such a strong faith in the prediction that he took leave 
of the prince and princesses on setting out for Germany, 
and, with tears in his eyes, told them he should never see 
them more. 

Neither were the proceedings of these impostors carried 
on stealthily. Here is the handbill issued by a prophetess, 
in 1777: 

" Mrs. Edwards, who, in Hungary, Russia, China, and 
Tartary, has studied the abstruse and occult sciences, 
under the most learned sages, augurs, astronomists, and 
soothsayers, is returned to England, after many years 
of studious application, and most humbly dedicates her 


knowledge in prescience to the ladies, being fully ac- 
quainted with, the mysteries and secrets of the profession, 
and amply provided with the requisite art and skill to 
answer all answerable questions in astrology. N.B. She 
may be consulted from ten in the morning till nine at 
night, at No. 22 (a pastrycook's), opposite Bow-street, in 
Great Russell-street, Covent-garden." 

The lottery system afforded an abundant harvest to 
these fortune-tellers. Every one was anxious to know 
whether his ticket would be drawn a blank or a prize, 
and some " Mrs. Edwards" was resorted to, to draw aside 
the curtain which concealed to-morrow. Out upon the 
ragged gipsies and vagabond fortune-tellers of modern 
times out upon your Derby prophets with only one 
initial to write under what think ye of the days 
when one of the " profession" (mark the term !) could 
afford to travel over the whole globe, even into China and 
Tartary, in pursuit of mystical knowledge to issue hand- 
bills to make known her fame and to occupy the first 
floor of a pastrycook's in Covent-garden ? 

We find, as late as 1774, weekly prophecies on the 
issue of political events inserted in the London Evening 
Post. The soothsayer of this paper was one J. Harman, 
of High-street, Saint Giles. During Wilkes's contest for 
the mayoralty, he predicts, the success of that popular 
champion, for the excellent and conclusive reason that 
" the planet Saturn, who is at this time Wilkes's Signifi- 
cator, is just entering Libra, the sign of Justice, which, 
in all combats and wars has been always found to be most 
powerful." The same day's paper (October the 4th, 
1774) announces the return of Alderman Bull by tlje 
livery. Verily thou wert at fault this time, J. Harman ! 

The popular belief in witchcraft another legacy of the 


previous century although on the wane, was still exist- 
ing. If a man died, or a cow fell sick if the harvest 
were light, or the weather cold if a child were fractious, 
or the milk turned sour, there was no accounting for such 
an occurrence but by concluding that the man, cow, corn, 
weather, child or milk were bewitched ; and if, by any un- 
fortunate chance, an old crone could be found hobbling 
about the neighbourhood, she was at once reputed to be 
the witch. And there was never wanting evidence of her 
being an adept in the black art ; one had seen her tete-a- 
tete with the devil himself in all his hideous deformity of 
horns and cloven foot nay, the approver would swear to 
within an inch of the length of his tail ; another detected 
her drawing magic circles on the ceiling, or tracing them 
in the air with her wand a well-known invocation to the 
Evil Spirit ; a third produced sundry mysterious cha- 
racters which he had discovered in her cottage (and, be it 
remembered, that in those days, and in the absence of 
the schoolmaster, all characters even the alphabet itself 
were mysterious in the eyes of the lower classes); a 
fourth detected something peculiarly malicious and sinister 
in the face of the old lady's cat, and that helpless animal 
was forthwith denounced as the " familiar spirit" which 
assisted her machinations ; and everything, down to the 
very furniture of her room, was made to furnish proof 
conclusive of her evil practices, and the unhappy beldam 
was arraigned as a witch and adjudged to the usual ordeal 
of " sinking or swimming." Accordingly, on the day of 
trial, a motley crowd of peasantry assembled around the 
nearest pond, and the old woman, bound hand and foot, 
and enveloped in a sheet, was dragged to the spot, and 
plunged into the water. Here she had the choice of two 
deaths if she sank, she would most likely be drowned; 


if she swam, it was the arch-fiend who supported her: she 
was undoubtedly a witch, and was either held under 
water or despatched in some other way. It is true, these 
exhibitions were not of such frequent occurrence as they 
had been in the seventeenth century, of the ignorance of 
which they were a relic, but there was a sufficient num- 
ber to render them also a feature of the eighteenth. 

Another mode of testing a witch, which prevailed at 
length over the more barbarous one of ducking (a process 
which was attended very often by death, either from 
drowning or from alarm, or, still oftener, exposure to the 
cold), was by weighing the suspected party against the 
church Bible. We give one instance of the application 
of this test from a comparatively recent period : 

a 28th of February. One Susannah Hannokes, an 
elderly woman, of Wyngrove, near Aylesbury, was ac- 
cused by her neighbour of bewitching her spinning-wheel, 
so that she could not make it go round, and offered to 
make oath of it before a magistrate ; on which the hus- 
band, in order to justify his wife, insisted upon her being 
tried by the church Bible, and that the accuser should be 
present. Accordingly she was conducted to the parish 
church, where she was stripped of all her clothes to her 
shift and overcoat, and weighed against the Bible, when, 
to the no small mortification of the accuser, she out- 
weighed it, and was honourably acquitted of the charge." 
Annual Register for 1759. 

And this scarcely thirty miles from London ! But it 
was not till the 10th Geo. II. (1736) that witchcraft 
ceased to be a capital offence in the eye of the law, so no 
wonder that the ignorant still retained the delusion which 
the judges of the land had not discarded. It is true that 
very few instances of its being carried into force can be 


found. Mr. Wills alludes to Mrs. Hicks and her daughter, 
who were executed at Huntingdon, in 1716, "for selling 
their souls to the devil, making their neighbours vomit 
pins, and raising a storm by which a certain ship was 
almost lost;" and to the execution of two women for 
witchcraft at Northampton, somewhere about 1710, but 
does not give his authority; but it is certain that, in 
1712, one Jlne Wenham was condemned to death on the 
same charge, although not executed. 

In Motrol's " Life of Brissot," it is stated that when 
Lord Mansfield was going the circuit, an old woman was 
brought before him for trial at a country assize, charged 
with being a witch, several persons having sworn that 
they had seen her walking on her head with her heels in 
the air. After reading the depositions with as much gra- 
vity as he could assume, his lordship delivered his opinion 
in these words : " Since you have seen this poor woman 
walking in the air, though her legs are scarcely able to 
support her on the earth, I can of course entertain no 
doubt of the fact ; but this witch is an Englishwoman, 
and subject, as well as you and I, to the laws of England, 
every one of which I have just run over in my mind with- 
out being able to hit upon any one which prohibits persons 
from walking in the air if they should find it convenient. 
All those persons, therefore, who have seen the accused 
perform her aerial promenades, are at liberty to follow her 
example." This was a very different view of the subject 
to that which Sir Matthew Hale had taken, when, de- 
claring his belief in witchcraft, he sentenced two old 
women to death upon a similar charge a sentence which 
was carried into effect at Bury Saint Edmunds in 1655. 

But in 1750, the populace, finding that the law would 
not aid them in suppressing the odious crimes of sorcery 


and witchcraft, took it into their own hands, determined 
that justice should not be defeated through any omission 
in the statute-book, and murdered an old woman in Hert- 
fordshire on the charge of being a witch, " with all the 
wantonness of brutality," as Smollett has recorded ; and 
the Gentleman s Magazine for 1731 mentions a similar 
murder perpetrated at Frome, in Somersetshire, in the 
September previous. 

When we find De Foe a devout believer in, and writing 
a sober treatise upon, ghosts and supernatural appearances 
when we know that Doctor Johnson had a serious in- 
clination to the same belief, and that Goldsmith was almost 
a half-believer, can we be astonished that men of less 
powerful reasoning faculties should have entertained a 
strong conviction of their existence? We can scarcely 
wonder at their being deluded by the clumsy contrivances 
of the Cock-lane ghost! This memorable imposition is 
matter of history, and so familiar that it is scarcely neces- 
sary to enter into details. Suffice it to remind our readers 
of the steps which it was thought necessary to take in 
order to pacify the public mind, and " lay the troubled 
spirit." The fame of certain mysterious knockings on the 
bedroom wall in an obscure house in Smith field having 
spread over the town, and men of all ranks having visited 
the scene of the alleged supernatural visitation, and come 
away without detecting the imposition, it was arranged 
that the Reverend Mr. Aldrich, of Clerkenwell, with a 
deputation of the inhabitants, should await the visit of the 
ghost and question it. This was done on the night of 
February the 1st, 1762, and an interview appointed with 
the invisible spirit, to take place in its vault in St. John's 
Church, whither they repaired, after "very seriously 
advertising to it" their intention, and, in the dead 


of night, they "solemnly called upon the spirit to 
perform its promise of unfolding itself." Its non-com- 
pliance, and several other circumstances coming to light, 
they were led to the detection of the imposture, and the 
principal in the confederacy was imprisoned for two years 
and pilloried thrice, his wife imprisoned for a year, and 
his servant for three months. 

Other impostors practised upon the public credulity 
with almost equal success. In 1772 sprang up what went 
by the name of the Stockwell Ghost, by which an elderly 
lady, Mrs. Golding, was frightened from house and home, 
and the whole neighbourhood thrown into agonies of 
terror by the mischievous but ingenious artifices of her 
servant, one Ann Robinson. 

In another vein of credulity, the public were, in 1726, 
actually made to believe that a woman, named Mary 
Tofts, had been delivered of four black rabbits, and 
another woman of a ram ! 

The absurd superstition that the sovereign had the 
power of curing the king's evil, by touching the per- 
son affected, continued to obtain until the reign of 
George the First.* Swift, in his "Journal to Stella," 
mentions making an application through the Duchess 
of Ormond, in 1711, to get a boy touched by the 
queen, but adds, " but the queen has not been able 
to touch, and it now grows so warm, I fear she will not 
at all." At a much later period, we read of children 
being taken upon the scaffold after an execution, to have 
the hand of the corpse applied to them, the " death 
sweat" of a man who had been hanged being held 
efficacious in scrofulous diseases; and the disgusting prac- 
tice was permitted as late as 1760. 

* The house of Hanover never pretended to the possession of this gift. 


But we find another patent cure of the king's evil men- 
tioned in an old work " by William Ellis, farmer, of 
Little Gaddesdon, near Hempstead, Herts," published at 
Salisbury in 1750. This is no other than the dried dead 
body of a toad, to be hung in a silk bag round the neck ; 
although two of the legs from a live toad were still 
better, for " as it pined, wasted, and died, the distemper 
would likewise waste and die." 

All kinds of specifics for ensuring a patriarchal old age, 
if not actual immortality Elixirs Vitse, and the like 
were sold and bought by sanguine dupes ; but beauty 
was to be got at the mere expense of a walk : 

" Yesterday, according to annual and superstitious cus- 
tom, a number of persons went into the fields, and bathed 
their faces with the dew on the grass (May-dew), under 
the idea that it would render them beautiful." Morning 
Post, May 2nd, 1791. 

Retailers of health at a cheap rate were among the 
class who took advantage of the public credulity, and 
were more numerous than the quacks of the present day, 
and rather different in their course of proceeding. They 
principally "pitched their tents" in Smithfield, Tower- 
hill, Moorfields, &c., and the public were attracted to 
their rival establishments by a mountebank, merry-andrew, 
harlequin, clown, or tumbler, who drew a crowd together 
by exhibiting his feats on a stage erected in front of the 
booth, and who, after flinging a summerset, or indulging 
in a grotesque grimace, would wind up his announcement 
somewhat in the following fashion : " Come along ! 
Come along, all you who are halt, lame, or blind ! This 
is the cheapest shop for health and long life. The illus- 
trious doctor is inside, making up his elixir to lengthen 
your days, and performing his miraculous cures ! Make 


way there for that gentleman with the crutches. Come 
along, sir ! Come along, and be whole !" 

The advertisements of these quacks bespeak an amount 
of ignorance and credulity on the part of the public that 
is perfectly astonishing. We quote the following from 
the Evening Post of August the 6th, 1717: 

"This is to give notice, that Doctor Benjamin Thorn- 
hill, sworn servant to his Majesty King George, Seventh 
Son of the Seventh Son, who has kept a stage in the 
rounds of West Smithfield for several months past, will 
continue to be advised with every day in the week, from 
eight in the morning till eight at night, at his lodgings at 
the Swan Inn, in West Smithfield, till Michaelmas, for 
the good of all people that lie languishing under dis- 
tempers, he knowing that 6 Talenta in agro non est 
abscondita T that a talent ought not to be hid in the 
earth. Therefore he exposes himself in public for the 
good of the poor. The many cures he has performed has 
given the world great satisfaction, having cured fifteen 
hundred people of the king's evil, and several hundreds 
that have been blind, lame, deaf, and diseased. God 
Almighty having been pleased to bestow upon him so 
great a talent, he thinks himself bound in duty to be 
helpful to all sorts of persons that are afflicted with any 
distemper. He will tell you in a minute what distemper 
you are troubled with, and whether you are curable or 
not. If not curable, he will not take any one in hand, if 
he might have five hundred pounds for a reward." 

Another of these empirical practitioners advertises a 
long list of questions in the Original Weekly Journal of 
December the 28th, 1723, for the purpose of putting the 
public on their guard against " such notorious cheats," 
and winds up the announcement with the following 


modest allusion to himself: " For your own sake apply 
to some man of ingenuity and probity who appears to 
justify his practice by his success, one of which invites 
you to his house at the Golden Heart and Square Lamp, 
in Crane-court, near Fetter-lane. Ask for the surgeon, 
who is to be advised with every morning till eleven 
o'clock, and from two till nine at night, in any dis- 

A Mrs. Mapp was a favourite doctress, in or about 
1736 (for the curative power was not confined to the male 
sex), and in one of Mr. Pulteney's letters, dated December 
the 21st, in that year, we find her mentioned as a famous 
" she-bonesetter and mountebank." 

Many of the male repairers of shattered constitutions 
and fractured limbs were foreigners or Jews, and we need 
scarcely add, in most cases had very little, if any, know- 
ledge of either surgery or medicine, who traded on the 
ignorance of the lower classes, upon a successful but acci- 
dental cure, or just sufficient knowledge to perform a 
simple one, and cunning enough to pass it off as a miracle. 

We are not informed whether any of these gentry 
prescribed for the unfortunate tradesman whose case we 
find recorded in the Westminster Journal of April the 
22nd, 1775: 

"Tuesday morning, Mr. Jefferson, corn-chandler, in 
Vine-street, Southwark, set out for the salt water at 
Gravesend, having been bit a few days before by a little 
dog that went mad, and dangerous symptoms beginning 
to appear." 

By the way, so great a terror was felt of mad dogs, 
that, in 1760, the Lord Mayor of London offered a 
bounty of half-a-crown for every dog's head that was 


brought to the Mansion House ; but, after paying away 
438 half-crowns, he began to sicken of his zeal, which he 
found too expensive. 

But let us return to the impostors of the eighteenth 
century, with whom we have not yet done, for we have 
not at present noticed a very numerous class the Con- 
jurers and Professors of the Art of Magic. Hogarth has 
enshrined one of the tribe, Doctor Faustus (who died 
May the 25th, 1731, leaving a fortune of ten thousand 
pounds amassed in his calling), in exposing the rage 
which then existed for this species of diversion. But the 
law did not always allow the public to be imposed upon 
with impunity, and, as in our own day, although the 
fashionable foreign knave might conjure the cash out of 
the pockets of his majesty's lieges, the low English 
wizard was a vagabond fit only for the treadmill or the 
stocks. On the 8th of May, 1759, according to the 
Annual Register, "A young man in the shameful dis- 
guise of a conjurer, with a large wig and hat of an extra- 
ordinary size, and an old nightgown, was committed to 
Bridewell, being charged with having used subtle craft 
to deceive and impose upon his majesty's subjects." 

But, reverting to the empirical professors of medicine, 
if the quack doctors themselves were obtrusive in their 
ways of winning custom, the vendors of quack nostrums 
were equally so, and their panacea were of more universal 
efficacy, and warranted to reach more subtle disorder?, 
than modern quacks have thought of healing, or even 
dreamt of the existence of. The first edition of the 
" Spectator " has the following advertisements of some 
precious heal-alls : 

" An admirable confect, which effectually cures stutter- 
ing and stammering in children or grown persons, though 


never so bad, causing them to speak distinct and free, 
without any trouble or difficulty ; it remedies all manner 
of impediments of the speech, or disorders of the voice of 
any kind, proceeding from what cause soever, rendering 
those persons capable of speaking easily and free, and with 
a clear voice, who before were not able to utter a sentence 
without hesitation. Its stupendous effects in so quickly 
and effectually curing stuttering and stammering and all 
disorders of the voice, and difficulty in the delivery of the 
speech, are really wonderful. Price 2s. 6d. per pot, with 
directions. Sold only at Mr. Osborn's toy-shop, at the 
Rose and Crown, under St. Dunstan's Church, Fleet- 

" Loss of Memory or Forgetfulness certainly cured by 
a grateful electuary peculiarly adapted for that end. It 
strikes at the primary source, which few apprehend, of 
forgetfulness makes the head clear and easy the spirits 
free, active, and undisturbed corroborates and revives all 
the noble faculties of the soul, such as thought, judgment, 
apprehension, reason, and memory; which last, in par- 
ticular, it so strengthens, as to render that faculty ex- 
ceeding quick and good beyond imagination ; thereby 
enabling those whose memory was before almost totally 
lost, to remember the minutest circumstances of their 
affairs, &c., to a wonder. Price 2s. 6d. a pot. Sold only 
at Mr. Payne's, at the Angel and Crown, in St. Paul's 
Churchyard, with directions." 

Doctor James's powders were in great request, and 
Goldsmith was a firm believer in their efficacy to the last; 
but it does not appear to have been noticed that New- 
berry, of St. Paul's Churchyard, was, as he advertises, 
" Sole Agent" for the sale of them. 

Another miraculous charm was the Anodyne Necklace, 


" which," says the advertisement, " after the wearing them 
but one night, children have immediately cut their teeth 
with safety, who, but just before, were on the brink of 
the grave with their teeth, fits, fevers, convulsions, gripes, 
loosenesses, &c., all proceeding from the teeth, and have 
almost miraculously recovered." The price of this won- 
derful necklace was 5s. 5d. : but then it was " patronised 
by the King for the royal children !" 

The Grub Street Journal of January the 9th, 1735, 
contains a formidable list of the quacks who had reigned 
for a time in public estimation from the beginning of the 
century. Among them we find : 

"First Doctor Tom SafFold, the Heel-maker, who 
used to publish his bills in verse, thus : 

Here's Saffold's pills, much better than the rest, 
Deservedly have gained the name of best; 
A box of eighteen pills for eighteen pence, 
Tho' 'tis too cheap in any man's own sense. 

" Second Sir William Read, Mountebank, Oculist, 
and Sworn Operator for the Eyes, 'who,' it is stated, 
' could not read one word,' but * was knighted, and kept a 
chariot.' He was a tailor by trade. 

" Third Roger Grant, originally a tinker, Oculist to 
Queen Anne. 

"Fourth Doctor Trotter, of Moorfields, a Conjurer, 
Fortune-teller, and Mountebank. 

" Fifth The 'Unborn Doctor' of Moorfields. This was 
a name with which he dubbed himself for attraction's sake, 
and explained it by saying ( he was not born a doctor.' 

" Sixth An Anonymous Fortune-teller, whose bills 
announced that he had been ' the Counsellor to the Coun- 
sellors of several kingdoms ; that he had the seed of the 
true female fern, and also had a glass.' 



"Seventh Doctor Hancock, who recommended cold 
water and stewed prunes as a general panacea. He was a 
shining light till he was put out by the writings of some 
men of superior sense. 

" Eighth Doctor Anodyne, the inventor of the neck- 
lace which bears his name, to assist children in cutting 
their teeth. One year he informs us, gratis, that all the 
woodcocks and cuckoos go annually to the moon. An- 
other year he presents us (gratis, also, good man !) with 
an almanack crammed with many valuable secrets, par- 
ticularly one receipt to choke those noxious vermin the 
bugs, and another to make sack-whey. 

"Ninth The famous Doctor who has taught us to 
make a soup, a hash, a fricasee of quicksilver, which he 
intended should pass in a regular and continued stream 
through the system till the patient was cured. 

"Tenth The Worm Doctor in Lawrence Pountney- 
lane; and 

" Eleventh Mr. Ward, of whom the public are cau- 
tioned in the pithy lines, 

Before you take his drop or pill, 

Take leave of friends and make your will." 

Thanks for this list, Mr. Bavius of the Grub Street 
Journal ! Let us hear Mr. Bickerstaff of the " Tatler : " 

" There are some who have gained themselves great re- 
putation for physick by their birth, as the Seventh Son 
of the Seventh Son, and others by not being born at all, 
as the f Unborn Doctor,' who I hear is lately gone the way 
of his patients, having died worth five hundred pounds 
per annum, though he was not born to a halfpenny." 
..." There would be no end of enumerating the 


several imaginary perfections and unaccountable artifices 
by which the tribe of men ensnare the minds of the 
vulgar, and gain crowds of admirers. I have seen the 
whole front of a mountebank's stage, from one end to the 
other, faced with patents, certificates, medals, and great 
seals, by which the several princes of Europe have testi- 
fied their particular respect and esteem for the doctor. 
Every great man with a sounding title has been his 
patient. I believe I have seen twenty mountebanks that 
have given physic to the Czar of Muscovy. The Great 
Duke of Tuscany escapes no better. The Elector of 

Brandenburg was likewise a very good patient." 

" I remember when our whole island was shaken with an 
earthquake some years ago, there was an. impudent mounte- 
bank, who sold pills which (as he told the country people) 
were very good against an earthquake !" 

This is the climax ! Shame on those credulous times ! 
But stay : Mr. Bickerstaff says this was " some years ago," 
and, as the century was only ten years old when he said 
so, we would carry it to the account of the previous one, 
but unfortunately Dr. Smollett has recorded a case of 
credulity almost as bad as this, and we are bound to quote 
him. In the spring of 1750, he tells us, that two shocks 
of an earthquake having been perceptibly felt in London, 
a crazy soldier increased the alarm that they created, by 
predicting another and severer shock, to occur on the 8th 
of April, which was to destroy the cities of London and 
Westminster, and, as the only means of salvation, preached 
up repentance. The terror which this prophecy caused 
among all ranks and classes was productive of a good 
effect as long as it lasted : 

" The churches were crowded with penitent sinners ; 


the sons of riot and profligacy were overawed into sobriety 
. and decorum. The streets no longer resounded with exe- 
crations or the noise of brutal licentiousness; and the hand 
of charity was liberally opened. Those whom fortune 
had enabled to retire from the devoted city, fled to the 
country with hurry and precipitation, insomuch that the 
highways were encumbered with horses and carriages. 
Many who had in the beginning combated these ground- 
less fears with the weapons of reason and ridicule, began 
insensibly to imbibe the contagion, and felt their hearts 
fail in proportion as the hour of probation approached ; even 
science and philosophy were not proof against the unac- 
countable effects of this communication. In after-ages, it 
will hardly be believed that, on the evening of the 8th of 
April, the open fields that skirted the metropolis were filled 
with an incredible number of people assembled in chairs, in 
chaises, and coaches, as well as on foot, who waited, in the 
most fearful suspense, until morning and the return of day 
disproved the truth of the dreaded prophecy. Then their 
fears vanished ; they returned to their respective habita- 
tions in a transport of joy." 

The Devil was sick the Devil a priest would be ; 
The Devil got well the Devil a priest was he. 

The panic over, "they were soon reconciled to their 
abandoned vices, which they seemed to resume with re- 
doubled affection, and once more bid defiance to the ven- 
geance of Heaven !" 

This was the occasion alluded to by Horace Walpole in 
his letter to Sir Horace Mann, dated April the 2nd, 1750 : 

" Several women have made earthquake gowns, that is, 


warm gowns to sit out of doors all to-night. These are of 
the more courageous." Others of his female titled ac- 
quaintances sought an asylum at an inn, ten miles from 
town, where they were going " to play at brag till five in 
the morning." 

But the threatened Destroyer did not keep his appoint- 
ment, and these amiable dames were spared, to play at 
brag another day ! 




THE last century was a peculiarly pugnacious one 
our grandfathers were very fond of fighting! In 1701, 
they began a war with France, which, although patched 
up with a treaty of peace for a time, continued, with very 
little intermission, till the end of the century; in 1718, 
they had a quarrel with Spain, which kept the two coun- 
tries at a greater or less degree of enmity for years ; in 
1715, the rebellion of the Jacobites began, and cannot be 
said to have been put down till the signal rout of their 
forces in 1745-6; in 1741, our troops were fighting in 
Flanders; in 1753, they were fighting the French and 
Indians in America; in 1777, they were fighting our own 
colonists in America; in 1793, they were fighting in the 
Netherlands; and 1799 found them fighting in India: to 
say nothing of a little boxing in the Mediterranean, the 
Baltic, and the Nile ; in fact, they were always fighting. 
Then as for invasions ! they were looked for in every 
hour of the day and night: our grandfathers might have 
been said to have slept under arms. Spain landed her 
three hundred troops in Scotland ; in 1 743, France 
threatened an invasion; in 1745, the Scottish and French 
allies ^invade; and, in 1750, the government prepared 


for a French invasion. And these symptoms of comba- 
tiveness made words quite familiar to the public ear, which 
we hope now are becoming obsolete and of obscure mean- 
ing, such as privateers, letters of marque, convoys, press- 
gangs, kidnappers, bounties, militia, volunteers, &c., &c. 

In the uncertainty attending the movements of the foes 
with which Old England had to contend, it was, of course, 
a wise policy that dictated the caution and preparation 
for anything in the shape of an invasion, which were 
exercised so warily by the government ; but the state of 
suspense and sense of insecurity which the constant appre- 
hension of the debarkation of French or Spanish troops 
upon our shores was the means of generating, displayed it- 
self sometimes in the most ludicrous aspects. The roll of a 
mountebank's drum in the streets, or the firing off of their 
loaded guns by the homeward-bound Indiamen coming 
up the river Thames, were sometimes mistaken for the 
tocsins of alarm, and the loyal citizen flew to his musket, 
to defend his native land. Labouring under the constant 
expectation of a descent upon our coasts, the government 
had look-out men stationed, and beacon-fires prepared 
along it. One of the former spread a panic through the 
South-Eastern counties in 1758, by announcing the ap- 
pearance of a hostile fleet approaching the mouth of the 
Thames. Two Dutch hoys were observed from the 
Downs, and mistaken by the lieutenant of the look-out 
ship for Frenchmen. The commodore was apprised of 
the fact, and gave chase to them, in the mean while send- 
ing off an express to London announcing the approach 
of the French squadron in the Channel ; and the courier 
circulating the momentous news as he flew along, drew 
forth the local bands of militia and loyal volunteers, and 
created great alarm in London. 


Without particularising the different measures which 
this apprehension called forth as camps in Hyde Park, 
and fortifications of the coast, which are incidental to 
times of trouble we may advert to the rage which the 
people themselves displayed for playing at soldiers. In 
1757, an act was passed for raising a militia for the 
national protection, and although we are not disposed to 
weary the reader with statistics, it may serve to show 
on what scale this force was organised, if we give the 
number of privates which each county was required to 
furnish to it: 

Bedfordshire 400 

Berkshire 560 

Buckinghamshire . . . . . .560 

Cambridgeshire . . . . , . . 480 

Cheshire and Chester . . ... . . 560 

Cornwall 640 

Cumberland 320 . 

Derbyshire 560 

Devonshire and Exon 1600 

Dorsetshire and Poole 640 

Durham 400 

Essex . . . 960 

Gloucestershire and Bristol . 960 

Herefordshire 480 

Hertfordshire 560 

Huntingdonshire 320 

Kent and Canterbury 960 

Lancashire 800 

Leicestershire 560 

Lincolnshire and Lincoln 1200 

Middlesex (Tower Hamlets) . . . .1160 

Ditto (rest of) 1600 

Monmouthshire 240 

Norfolk and Norwich 960 

Northamptonshire 640 

Northumberland, Newcastle, and Berwick . . . 560 
Nottinghamshire and Nottingham . . .480 

Oxfordshire 560 

Rutlandshire . . 120 


Shropshire 640 

Somersetshire 840 

Southampton, county and town . . . . 960 

Stafford and Lichfield 560 

Suffolk 960 

Surrey 800 

Sussex 800 

Warwickshire and Warwick . . . .640 

Westmoreland 240 

Wiltshire 800 

Worcestershire and Worcester . . . . 560 

Yorkshire, West Riding 1240 

Ditto, North ditto 720 

Ditto, Hull, and East ditto . . . .400 

Anglesea 80 

Brecknockshire 160 

Cardiganshire 120 

Carmarthenshire and town 200 

Carnarvonshire 80 

Denbighshire 280 

Flintshire 120 

Glamorganshire 360 

Merionethshire 80 

Montgomeryshire 240 

Pembrokeshire 160 

Radnorshire 120 

Making a force of 32,000 privates, who were to be em- 
ployed in home service only, and to be amenable for the 
most part to the civil authority. By a later act of parlia- 
ment, parties " drawn for the militia" were allowed to 
find substitutes, and regular agencies were formed for this 
purpose, the premium in 1795 being 7s. 6d. or 10s. 6d. 
each; and subsequently, by an act which passed in 1779, 
the militia force throughout the kingdom was doubled. 

Horace Walpole speaks of the review of the militia, in 
1759, by the king in person, in Hyde Park, and, alluding 
to Lord Orford, their colonel, describes the uniform of 
their officers as " scarlet, faced with black, buff waistcoat, 
and gold buttons." 


In addition to the militia were the corps of volunteers 
the Loyal Westminster Volunteers, the Light Horse 
Volunteers, and local bodies in every district in the 
country in which the most quiet professions and pacific 
trades armed themselves to a man. The attorney-general 
threw down his pen and took up the sword at the head 
of the Temple Volunteers, and Charles Kemble began to 
think of playing the warrior in earnest in the Westminster 
Volunteers. The king reviewed them in great form 
the fields were crowded with uniforms of grey, blue, red, 
or green, distinguishing the several troops the streets 
bristled with muskets and carbines on the respective " field- 
days," and, on Sundays, the volunteers marched to their 
parish church with their band of martial music at their 

Many an honest tradesman owed his downfal to this 
warlike mania. First came an outlay for the uniform 
an expensive uniform it was too, by the way ; then there 
was a charge for the cleaning of the arms and accoutre- 
ments ; then, decked out in full regimentals, our trades- 
man had to repair on stated days to exercise, and thus the 
shop was deserted, and business dwindled down till the 
ardent volunteer appeared in the Gazette, not, be it under- 
stood, in the list of Military Promotions, but in that of 

"B pts." Cheerful times they were, nevertheless 

the sun shining, the band playing, the colours flying, and 
ecstatic urchins shouting from very joy, while the valiant 
sons of Mercury, Thespis, Themis, and Saint Crispin 
adopted for the nonce by Mars went through their exer- 
cise. But, ye gods of war and victory, watch over and 
guide them, lest yon second Marlborough, who retails 
rushlights and red-herrings in Shoreditch, or that gaudy 


sergeant born to rival Wolfe who is a dealer in tripe 
and trotters, betray his calling, and talk about business 
and the shop ! Direct their evolutions, or perchance the 
tailor, who never handled a heavier weapon than a needle, 
may ground his musket upon his comrade's toe, and pre- 
vent his " standing at ease ;" or the cheesemonger next 
to him may singe the whiskers of his commanding officer 
with the charge he is cramming into the barrel of his gun ! 
The duty and the danger are over, and now, off to the dinner 
of your corps, brave volunteers ! You have distinguished 
yourselves, gentlemen, to-day, and might have distin- 
guished yourselves much more, had an enemy dared to 
face you your country thanks you. Talk of an enemy, 
indeed ! Ha ! ha ! It was probably from respect to your 
prowess possibly from other causes that the French 
never honoured us with a visit, and that, at the conclusion 
of the war, your forces were disbanded without having 
had a skirmish with the foe, notwithstanding the many 
alarms of invasion which had drawn you shivering with 
cold, and chattering of glory, from your beds and 

But the volunteers must not be laughed at ; inde- 
pendent of the vanity which may have enlisted some into 
their ranks, there was, it must not be denied, a spirit of 
patriotism abroad, and an enthusiastic determination among 
all classes to defend their hearths and homes against the 

The same noble spirit was evinced in the subscriptions 
set on foot by the City of London, in 1759, for granting 
bounties to seamen and landsmen who would join the 
king's service, in addition to the offer of the freedom of 
the City to them, after a service of three years, or at the 


conclusion of the war, if it were brought to a close earlier; 
and in the subscription started by the Grand Jury of 
Suffolk for building a ship of the line, in 1782, which 
soon amounted to seventeen thousand five hundred pounds ! 
It was the same noble spirit that actuated other cities and 
boroughs to follow the example of London, and offer 
similar "bounties ;" and, in 1798, it again showed itself 
in the shape of " free gifts " to the government for the 
protection of the country. On January the 30th, 1798, 
the king presented twenty thousand pounds out of his 
privy purse as a " free gift ;" in September, the managers 
of several provincial theatres gave a benefit for the same 
fund on the first and last nights of the season ; in the 
same month, a subscription opened by the Bank of Eng- 
land amounted to nearly two hundred thousand pounds : 
and the total amount thus voluntarily raised was a million 
and a half sterling by the 28th of September ! 

The bounties offered by government were, in 1782 
for every able seaman, five pounds; ordinary seamen, 
fifty shillings each ; and able-bodied landsmen, thirty 
shillings ; which was increased in the same year by an addi- 
tional bounty offered by the East India Company, of three 
guineas each to able seamen, two guineas to ordinary 
seamen, and a guinea and a half to landsmen, to the 
number of two thousand of each class. At the same 
court, this munificent company ordered three 74-gun 
ships to be built and presented to the king's service. The 
highest bounty ever known, amounted, in 1793, to thir- 
teen pounds : namely, five pounds from government, two 
pounds from the City of London, two pounds from the 
Charter House, two pounds from the Trinity House, and 
two pounds from the Jockey Club. 


But there were other less constitutional, but still neces- 
sary, ways resorted to for raising the forces and the supplies. 
Additional taxes were imposed upon every imaginable 
luxury, and additional duties upon articles of consump- 
tion not absolutely necessary. 

In 1787, the duty on shops, or "Shop tax," returned to 
the revenue no smaller a sum than one hundred and eight 
thousand pounds, of which Scotland paid eight hundred ; 
London and Westminster forty-two thousand ; Bath and 
Bristol one thousand; and the other cities, towns, &c., of 
England, fifty-seven thousand. 

In 1798, the following list of Assessed Taxes is given 
on the face of the collector's receipt : 

Commutation Tax. 

Old Window Tax. 

House Tax. 

Additional Duty on Inhabited Houses. 

Male Servant. 

Additional Duty on ditto.. 

Horse for Riding, &c. 

Additional Duty on ditto. 

Further Additional Duty on ditto. 

Horse for Agriculture, &c. 

Additional Duty on ditto. 

Carriage with Four Wheels. 

Carriage with Two Wheels. 

Taxed Cart. 


Twenty per Cent, on the above Taxes. 

Stamp for Receipts. 


Gold Watch. * 

Silver or Metal Watch. 

The abuses which had crept into the regular army by 
this time would scarcely be credited were they not re- 
corded by an authority so trustworthy as Sir Walter Scott, 
who thus describes them in an article occasioned by the 


death of the Duke of York, in the Edinburgh Weekly 
Journal of January the 10th ? 1827: 

" No science was required on the part of the candidate 
for a commission in the army: no term of service as a 
cadet, no previous experience whatever the promotion 
went on equally unimpeded; the boy let loose from school 
last week might, in the course of a month, be a field- 
officer, if his friends were disposed to be liberal of money 
and influence. Others there were against whom there 
could be no complaint for want of length of service, 
although it might be difficult to see how their expe- 
rience was improved by it. It was no uncommon 
thing for a commission to be obtained for a child in the 
cradle; and, when he came from college, the fortunate 
youth was at least a lieutenant of some standing by 
dint of fair promotion. To sum up this catalogue of 
abuses, commissions were in some instances bestowed upon 
young ladies, when pensions could not be had. We know 
ourselves one fair dame who drew the pay of captain in 

the Dragoons, and was, probably, not much less fit 

for the service than some who, at that period, actually did 
duty; for, as we have said, no knowledge of any kind 
was demanded from the young officers ; if they desired to 
improve themselves in the elemental parts of their profes- 
sion, there were no means open, either of direction or in- 
struction. But, as a zeal for knowledge rarely exists where 
its attainment brings no credit or advantage, the gay 
young men who adopted the military profession were 
easily led into the fashion of thinking that it was pedantry 
to be master even of the routine of the exercise which 
they were obliged to perform. An intelligent sergeant 
whispered from time to time the word of command, which 
his captain would have been ashamed to have known 


without prompting, and thus the duty of the field-day was 
huddled over rather than performed." 

We also have living portraits embalmed in the works 
of Smollett and Fielding, which show the state, not only 
of the Army, but also of the Navy and the Church 
witness their Weazles and Bowlings, their Trullibers and 

The severity exercised in the army at this time was ex- 
cessive, although certainly justified to some extent by 
the necessity of preserving discipline during the wars; but 
what could the poor private expect from such officers as 
Scott has described, full of caprice and arrogance, enhanced 
by suddenly finding themselves in a position to command, 
and void of experience or knowledge of their duties ? 
We find, in 1784, a Captain Kenneth Mackenzie, com- 
mander of a fort in Africa, so zealous on this point, that 
on a prisoner, one Kenneth Murray Mackenzie, a deserter, 
effecting his escape, he ordered the sentry who was on 
duty at the time to receive fifteen hundred lashes, and, on 
the runaway being found, he was, by the orders of his 
captain, tied to a cannon and blown to pieces. It is but 
justice to add, that the captain was, on December the 
10th, 1784, tried at the Old Bailey, and convicted of the 

To secure hands for the army and navy, bodies of men 
were organised in addition to the ordinary recruiting ser- 
vice, namely, "kidnappers" for the army, and "press- 
gangs " to obtain recruits for the navy. 

The kidnappers were not kept so much for the regular 
army it was the East India Company's agent?, who had 
regular depots in town ready to receive the victims. That 
this service was not very lawfully performed, we may judge 
by the complaints made of the practices resorted to in 



these crimping-houses. Thus, a man was found dead in 
Chancery-lane, when it was discovered that he had met 
his death in attempting to escape through the skylight of 
an East Indian depot for recruits ; at another time myste- 
rious funerals at night were noticed in Saint Bride's 
Churchyard, in Fleet-street, and, no entries being made 
in the register, it was found upon inquiry that the bodies 
were brought from another depot in the neighbourhood, 
where numbers of recruits who had been kidnapped were 
imprisoned, previous to a secret shipment to India. Even 
De Foe, on a journey into the West of England, only 
escaped by stratagem from an attempt made to kidnap 

But we will give a specimen of the proceedings of the 
kidnappers from the British Gazette and Sunday Monitor 
of August the 4th, 1782 : 

" Wednesday evening one of the most horrid scenes 
was discovered near Leicester-fields that ever disgraced 
any civilised country. A young lad was perceived run- 
ning from thence towards the Haymarket, and two or 
three fellows running after him, crying, * Stop thief !' 
Some of the passengers no sooner stopped him as such, 
than he told them he was no thief, but had been kid- 
napped by his pursuers, who had chained him in a cellar 
with about nine more, in order to be shipped off for India; 
and that Jie had made his escape so far by mere despera- 
tion, swearing he would run the first through with a pen- 
knife he held open in his hand. The youth was instantly 
liberated, and the whole fury of the populace fell on his 
kidnapping pursuers, one of whom was heartily ducked in 
the Mews pond. All the remaining youths were taken 
from the place of confinement, by the intervention of the 
populace. Those robbers of human flesh, it seems, not 


only intoxicate country lads till they can confine them, 
but have been known to stop people in the streets, and 
carry them to their horrid dens, under the various pre- 
tences of [their] being deserters, pickpockets, &c. They 
likewise attend register offices, and hire raw youths there 
for servants, whom they immediately confine, and sell 
them either to the military or to the India kidnapping con- 
tractors. The master of this infamous house behaved in 
a most insolent manner before Justice Hyde, and was 
committed to the watchhouse black-hole till this day at 
eleven o'clock, when he is to be re-examined." 

We learn two facts from this extract. In the first place, 
it is gratifying to observe that the system of kidnapping 
was not openly recognised, but seems to have been treated 
as unlawful : and, by another passage we find that it was 
not only for the East Indian military service that it was 
resorted to, but that the wretched victims were sometimes 
sold into a kind of slavery. The practice still continued 
also of kidnapping and selling country youths to the cap- 
tains of trading vessels to America, who again disposed of 
them for a series of years to planters in Pennsylvania and 
the other North American colonies, where their condition 
of bondage has been feelingly told in the well-known 
" Adventures of an Unfortunate Young Nobleman." 

A very similar occurrence to that quoted happened in 
the same neighbourhood six years afterwards, and is 
thus recorded in the Craftsman of January the 5th, 1788 : 

a Saturday evening, about nine o'clock, a most uncom- 
mon scene presented itself near Charing Cross, viz., a 
young man about eighteen, in his shirt, with a hot poker 
in his hand, running full speed, and two crimps pursuing 
him, crying out < Murder!' and ' Stop thief!' It seems 
the lad being obstreperous, had been put to bed about 



eight o'clock for security, but that after forcing open the 
chamber door, he rushed into the tap-room, and seizing the 
poker that was then in the fire, defended himself against 
upwards of a dozen crimps and others, some of whom 
were much bruised. The lad was stopped in Saint Mar- 
tin's-lane, but soon rescued by the populace, who had the 
additional satisfaction of seeing one of the kidnappers 
severely drubbed by a butcher, who, it seems, had been 
in a similar situation with the young lad but a short time 
ago. The former had been met with coming out of a 
register office, and trepanned under the pretence of carry- 
ing a letter to the house where he had been detained." 

After this, we may almost reconcile ourselves to the 
milder atrocities of the press-gangs, which picked up mer- 
chant-seamen (whose wages from 45s. to 55s. per month 
in 1776 from the scarcity of them, were high in compari- 
son with the rates in the royal navy), and even, if the 
press were very " hot," landsmen were seized and carried 
off, if in London, to the tender off the Tower, for the 
naval service. Such paragraphs as the one we here copy 
from the "Historical Chronicle" of the Gentleman s 
Magazine for February, 1754, were at that time com- 

" Impress warrants being issued out, the press was very 
brisk at Cowes, and in the harbour, and a great many use- 
ful hands were picked up." 

Another extract, from Lloyd's Evening Post and English 
Chronicle of January 29th, 1777, will show that there 
existed some competition between the press-gangs and the 
kidnappers : 

" Yesterday a terrible affray happened at a public-house 
near Ratcliffe Highway between a party of kidnappers and 
a press-gang. The quarrel arose about enlisting a man 


that had been at sea, who, upon his discovering to a sailor, 
then drinking in the house, the artifices made use of to 
trepan him, and declaring his preferring the sea to the 
land service, the honest tar went for a press-gang, who 
soon decided the quarrel by giving the kidnappers a 
hearty drubbing." 

These press-gangs were sometimes of still greater ser- 
vice. The following is no isolated case : 

" On Friday night, a press-gang, having received in- 
telligence of a house near Poplar, where the thieves skulk 
till the evening, when they commence their depredations, 
went very unexpectedly and surrounded the house, from 
which they took seventeen, and carried them away to the 
tender at the Tower." Old British Spy, September 21, 

The pathetic scenes attendant upon this necessary but 
arbitrary method of manning the navy were very frequent : 
the sailor who had just returned from a long voyage was 
subject to be torn from his family and shipped off to a 
longer cruise or a foreign station ; homeward-bound ships, 
coming up the Channel, were boarded and their crews 
carried away, only a sufficient number of hands being left 
to navigate the vessel; families were left to bewail the 
sudden abstraction of a husband, a father, a son, or -a 
brother; women, with large families left unprovided for, 
to be received in the streets, the workhouse, or the gaol. 

In the neighbourhood of the seaports, contests 'might 
frequently be seen going on between a press-gang, headed 
by a petty officer, and a merchant-seaman, or perhaps a 
landsman; loud altercations in the streets between the 
press-gang and some sailor who claimed to be a master, 
mate, or apprentice, but who had not got the papers with 
him which exempted him ; and, in some obscure garret in 


a sailor's lodging-house, Jack Tar might be seen, in ex- 
pectation of the visit of a press-gang, heating a poker in 
the fire to give them a warm reception. 

But, even when overpowered by numbers, and carried 
off, disarmed and pinioned, to the depot, Jack did not 
always give up hope or resistance. Here are two instances, 
the first from the " Annual Register" for 1759": 

" May 14^. -Thirty impressed men on board a tender 
at Sunderland forcibly made their escape. The bravery 
of the leader is remarkable, who, being hoisted upon deck 
by his followers, wrested the halbert from the sentinel on 
duty, and, with one hand defended himself, while, with 
the other, he let down a ladder into the hold, for the rest 
to come up, which they did, and overpowered the crew." 

" June 22nd. Was the hottest press for seamen on the 
Thames that has been known since the war began no 
regard being paid to protections and upwards of two hun- 
dred swept away. The crew of the Prince of Wales, a 
letter of marque ship, stood to their arms, and saved 
themselves by their resolution." Annual Register for 

The royal navy, with all its impressed forces, was not 
considered sufficient to secure the safety of the British 
merchantmen, and, though whole fleets of vessels were 
compelled to wait at the outports till a frigate came to 
protect or " convoy" them on their voyage, and had to 
lie again for a convoy to conduct them back, French or 
Spanish men-of-war would often carry off some richly- 
freighted Indiaman, and the commanders of the convoy 
would find one occasionally missing from their flock, 
which had sailed too wide away in the night, and been 
carried into port by the foe. To retaliate in the same 
coin, the government permitted private individuals to fit 


out vessels for the purpose of making reprisals, and, as 
they would now and then capture a valuable ship and 
cargo, it was not an unprofitable speculation, and was 
eagerly entered into, either by individuals or " Reprisal 
Societies." These privateers and " letters of marque," as 
they were called from the licenses furnished to them, seem 
to have been slightly given to piratical practices, as in the 
following instance, reported in the " Annual Register" for 

" April 3rd. Two gentlemen, passengers from Holland, 
landed at Margate. They affirm they were in the even- 
ing boarded in sight of the North Foreland by an English 
privateer cutter, whose crew, in disguise, confined the 
captain and crew of their vessel in the cabin, and then 
plundered it of goods to the value of two thousand pounds, 
demanded the captain's money, and took what the pas- 
sengers had." 

In 1758, the number of privateers was so great that 
scarcely a French ship dare leave the harbours, and in the 
absence of legitimate prizes, they attacked and plundered 
the vessels of neutral countries. Thus, " a Dutch vessel," 
says Smollett, " having on board the baggage and domes- 
tics of the Marquis de Pignatelli, ambassador from the 
court of Spain to the King of Denmark, was boarded 
three times successively by the crews of three different 
privateers, who forced the hatches, rummaged the hold, 
broke open and rifled the trunks of the ambassador, in- 
sulted and even cruelly bruised his officers, stripped his 
domestics, and carried off his effects, together with letters 
of credit and a bill of exchange." 

These repeated aggressions upon neutral vessels calling 
forth a perfect tempest of remonstrance and complaint, a 
bill was passed, declaring any vessel of less burden than 


one hundred tons, carrying less than ten three-pounders, 
and having a smaller complement than forty men, ineli- 
gible as a privateer, except by special permission, and also 
regulating the registry and control of this large and ill- 
conditioned force. 

Apropos of privateers, as a mere trifling matter, but yet 
peculiar to the time, we find in a long list of them the 
favourite names appear to have been such as The Charm- 
ing Polly, Lovely Sukey, Pretty Peggy, Siveet Sally, 
Lovely Nancy, Miss Betty, &c., &c. ; and both in the lists 
of shipping and of marriages in the magazines of the time, 
we find these now vulgar contractions or corruptions of 
female names. This by the way, as a specimen of defunct 

The newspapers of the last century teern with evidences 
of foreign war. The arrival of " the Convoy from the 
West Indies" is as regularly chronicled (and with much 
more of significant congratulation) as is now the arrival of 
the West India mail; the Gazette is crammed with de- 
spatches announcing a "splendid victory," or "glorious 
action," lists of killed and wounded, divisions of prize- 
money, and sailings of fleets, journals of sieges, embarka- 
tions of troops, battles, skirmishes, engagements, and 
captures. Now and then a mutiny breaks out among the 
French prisoners who are lying at some of the ports wait- 
ing for an exchange by cartel; or we read of French 
officers breaking their paroles of honour and escaping 

These French prisoners, of whom the Universal Maga- 
zine of October, 1747, says "there are not less than 
twelve thousand in England," deluged the market with 
fancy articles thread-papers, made of Indian straw, pin- 


cushions, work-boxes, hair chains, toys, and a hundred 
different articles of bijouterie, by which they contrived to 
earn a trifle to carry home when the cartel was arranged 
between the two nations, and they were exchanged for an 
equal number of English prisoners. These articles, which 
used to crowd the sideboards of our grandsires, were a 
part of the curiosities incidental to the continued wars of 
the last century, and we must find them a corner in our 
museum accordingly. 




WE have already hinted at the intensity of political 
feeling in the last century, which carried partisanship 
from the coffee and chocolate-house to the theatre, and 
even the inner recesses of the lady's chamber, and 
induced the zealous beauty to proclaim her principles by 
the position of the patches of court-plaister on her face, 
and by the seat which she took at the playhouse. 

In the discussion of some question of state, fathers, 
Brutus-like, sacrificed their children, tradesmen neglected 
their business, and friends fought and slew each other. 
But, after all, the coffee-house was the arena of political 
discussion. Addison mentions " the inner parlour of the 
' Grecian' " as the resort of a knot of furious politicians 
who weighed every measure brought forward in parlia- 
ment, canvassed every notice in the Gazette, and doubted 
the efficacy of every treaty that was signed. In 1724, we 
find the " Cocoa Tree," or " Ozinda's," distinguished as 
the resort of Tory politicians, and the " Saint James's" 
for its Whig frequenters. De Foe says, " A Whig will 
no more go to the Cocoa Tree, or Ozinda's, than a Tory 
will be seen at the coffee-house of Saint James's." To- 
wards the latter part of the century this rage was in 
nowise abated, for Goldsmith, in the " Citizen of the 


World," writes: "An Englishman, not satisfied with 
finding by his own prosperity the contending powers of 
Europe properly balanced, desires also to know the precise 
value of every weight in either scale. To gratify this 
curiosity, a leaf of political instruction is served up every 
morning with tea; when our politician has feasted upon 
this, he repairs to a coffee-house, in order to ruminate 
upon what he has read, and increase his collection ; from 
thence he proceeds to the ordinary, inquires ' What 
news?' and treasuring up every requisition there, hunts 
about all the evening in quest of more, and carefully adds 
it to all the rest. Thus, at night, he returns home, full of 
the important advices of the day : when, lo ! waking next 
morning, he finds the instructions of yesterday a collec- 
tion of absurdity or palpable falsehood. This one would 
think a mortifying repulse in the pursuit of wisdom, yet 
our politician, noway discouraged, hunts on, in order to 
collect fresh materials, and in order to be again dis- 

In the days of Swift we may find, from the very 
cautious character of his correspondence, and the equivo- 
cal and often hieroglyphical language of his friends in 
writing to him, as well as from frequent direct allusions to 
the fact, that the public post was not held sacred during 
these times of hot partisanship, but that the corre- 
spondence of parties supposed to be at all of different 
views from the government was repeatedly intercepted 
and opened. This system appears to have prevailed alike 
through the successive administrations of Godolphin, Ox- 
ford, Bolingbroke, and Walpole ; discreditable and re- 
pulsive to our English feelings, it was, perhaps, tolerated 
more easily through the very intensity of the passion for 
politics, which disposed both parties to recognise the rule 


that all schemes were justifiable which led to the desired 
end in this trial of strength the impeachment of the one 
or the other party's minister. 

We must bear in mind that, throughout the century, 
there was a continual supply of food for this passion to 
feed upon. Twelve years had but elapsed at its com- 
mencement, since a revolution, entirely altering the 
dynasty, and settling the constitution on a surer religious 
and political basis, and which affected the destiny of the 
country so materially that it required some time to adjust 
matters on the footing which was deemed to be the safest 
to the nation, and still longer to reconcile men's minds to 
the new order of things to soften down asperities, and to 
obliterate prejudices; people had hardly ascertained what 
reforms they were to expect what liberties were to be 
given to them. Then the death of two successive 
sovereigns without issue, rendered another change in the 
line of monarchs inevitable, and the Hanoverian succes- 
sion was at length fixed upon. This caused a protracted 
struggle between the old Stuart party, who saw a pros- 
pect of returning to power when Anne sat on the throne 
without issue, and left it a legacy for contention, and the 
partisans of the new line, which, settled by arms in 1715, 
was again renewed with great energy in 1745. Another 
fruitful source of discussion was found in the continued 
foreign wars, and our being almost throughout the century 
involved in disputes with the neighbouring courts. The 
violent writings of Wilkes, Junius, and Sampson Perry, 
helped to keep the flame alive, and the greater efforts the 
government made to reduce it by adopting rigorous pro- 
ceedings against those writers, the fiercer it burned the 
attorney-general and the judges were merely pouring 
water upon burning oil. The dispute with our revolted 


colonies in America, and their subsequent successful 
struggle for independence, divided the nation into two 
parties; and, finally, the century closed upon a state of 
anarchy and confusion which, breaking out with the 
French Kevolution, had spread epidemically over almost 
the entire continent, leaving it doubtful where or when it 
would be stemmed, and leaving England engaged in a 
vigorous attempt to restore the distribution of power, 
which had been so wildly upset, for the better security 
and peace of Europe. This was a period well adapted to 
draw out great statesmen from among the heterogeneous 
mass collected in parliament, and Bolingbroke, Harley, 
Walpole, North, Chatham, Pitt, Burke, Fox, and Can- 
ning, were alternately thrown up on the surface of the 
troubled waters. 

But in every coffee-house, from Saint James's to the 
Royal Exchange, and in every tavern in the city, there 
were rival statesmen, who were settling the gravest affairs 
of the nation, under the soothing or inspiring effects (as 
the case might require) of tea, coffee, cocoa, chocolate, 
punch, or purl. Particular boxes in the coffee-house were 
allotted to little knots of these sage politicians, or a parti- 
cular room retained by a more influential club of them. 
Associations for the solving of great state problems sat 
nightly at every tavern, and energetically protested 
against, or warmly supported the measures of the govern- 
ment. A hatter from Cheapside would come down to 
his club prepared to pay off the national debt, as he paid 
off his own debts on paper. A Cornhill tailor, who was 
ignorant of his domestic duties, would find fault with 
duties imposed by the government. A cutler, who was a 
member of some loyal volunteer corps, would be prepared 
to show that some besieged general was entirely ignorant 



of the art of fortification ; or a man living by his wits, 
and who had no principle in himself, would come and 
spout by the hour together in opposition to a government 
measure, but only objected to it on " principle." A draper 
would deliver speeches by the yard, as conjurers vomit 
ribbons, or mine host himself called to their councils, 
would, perhaps, more concisely " come to the pint ;" 
whilst a druggist, who was looked upon as the professional 
member of the club, would enter into an explanation of 
his " scruples." Some of these clubs were of importance, 
and created a sensation in the political world. There was 
the "Jacobite Club;" for the restoration of the exiled 
Stuarts the " London Corresponding Society, united for 
a reform of Parliament " the " Constitutional Society," 
advocating the cause of the revolted colonies, or " planta- 
tions," in America the " Supporters of the Bill of Rights" 
the " Society of the Friends of the Liberty of the 
Press," of which Sheridan was a member; and a host of 
others, which had some pretensions to importance and 

The programme of the evening's discussion was fre- 
quently advertised in the public papers, when the club was 
understood to be a controversial or open debating club; 
but one or two specimens of these announcements will 
suffice : 

"Society for Free Debate, Queen's Arms, Newgate- 
street. The questions to be argued here this evening are 
as follows, viz., ( Are not the Severe Laws by which the 
Soldiery of England are governed, dangerous to British 
Liberty ?' and c Ought Great Britain to give up the De- 
pendency of America, or declare War with France ?' 
The chair will be taken at eight o'clock." Gazetteer of 
October 24, 1778. 


The subjects announced for discussion at the Capel- 
court Debates, held in Bartholomew-lane, every Monday 
evening (the admission to which was sixpence), were 
" 1 788, August 4th : ' Between which Characters is the Re- 
semblance most Striking, Mr. Pitt and Sir Robert Walpole, 
or Mr. Fox and Oliver Cromwell?' " and, " August llth : 
' Which is the greatest Domestic Evil, a Drunken Hus- 
band or a Scolding Wife ?' " Here was variety of subject ! 

Fielding, in his Covent Garden Journal, Nos. 8 and 9, 
satirises the style and composition of these clubs, and the 
passion of the 'prentices and clerks, of whom they often 
consisted, for grasping questions beyond their scope, and 
gives a mock journal of(the " Robinhoodians," in which, 
patten-makers, shoemakers, tailors, barbers, weavers, and ) 
a boatswain's mate, are the orators. 

At some of these meetings, held in obscure garrets, 
some miserable conspiracy against the government was 
seriously projected now and then, and when, on the 
information of one of the members, a picket of guards or 
a few constables were brought to break in upon their dis- 
cussion, these valorous spirits would clamber hastily out 
at the trap-door, and, scampering over the tiles in their 
anxiety to escape, literally risk their lives in the service 
of their country. Debating societies, vulgarly dubbed V 
" Spouting Clubs," were much affected by the 'prentices / 
and shop-boys of London ; and Mr. Dickens, in his " Bar- 
naby Rudge," has very happily sketched one of these 
deliberative assemblies and some of its prominent cha- 
racters, at the time of the riots of '80. 

That political feeling was wrought up to an immense 
pitch we have said enough to indicate, but we have yet to 
bring forward another and more striking instance, which 
shows that party feeling was displayed even over the grave, 


and that the challenges of faction were uttered by the 
most demure personages on the most solemn of occasions. 
At the funeral of the Earl of Chatham, on June the 9th, 
1798, in the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Glou- 
cester, Pitt, Burke, Dunning, &c., the Bishop of Ro- 
chester read the following epitaph after the funeral service 
in Westminster Abbey, " with an energy truly pathetic :" 

In the grateful Memory 

Of his Country, 

Here rest the remains 

Of the Great Commoner 

The Right Honourable 


By all Europe revered ; 

But a profligate 


Who succeeded to his Office 

Without his Talents 

Or his Virtues, 

Made shipwreck of Government. 
Their ambition and their plans 

Were different : 

It was his to Subdue the Common Enemy 
Theirs to Enslave 

Their Country. 

Rest, indignant shade, 

Under this Consolation 

That thy great Renown shall be lasting 

As their Infamy. 

Such, then, being the state of popular feeling, we may 
easily conceive to what excesses it rose during the pro- 
tracted period of a parliamentary election at that time. 
We have before us a whole volume of lampoons, squibs, 
and political pasquinades, preserved from the great con- 
tested election for Yorkshire, in March, 1784, between 
Duncombe and Wilberforce on the Bute side, and Fol- 
jambe and Weddel, whose hand-bills denounced at one 
fell swoop "North, Fox, Coalition, and the India Bill." 


Another and thicker volume contains the squibs and songs 
written for the election for the City of York, for which 
Lord John Cavendish and Sir William Milner came for- 
ward in the Fox interest, and Lord Gal way and R. S. 
Milnes in opposition. We may quote one or two (by no 
means the most intemperate of the collection), by way of 
sample : 

"No Bribery, No Corruption, No Bludgeons, No Col- 
liers, No Aristocratical Blows, No Threats, No Compul- 
sion, No Fox, No Coalition ; but Freedom of Election, 
Independence, the Peace of the City, and Galway and 
Milnes for ever. Huzza !" 

Here is another, levelled personally against Lord John 
Cavendish : 

" York, March 26th, 1784. Received of my Consti- 
tuents of the City of York, their hearty and unfeigned 
disapprobation of my Conduct, which, not being of the 
Value of Forty Shillings, is not, 'according to Act of 
Parliament] liable to the tax. J. C." * 

" York, April Sth, 1784. To be Sold by the Kidnap- 
ping Parson,f in the 6 Apollo,' at the ' George,' in Coney- 
street, on Wednesday, the 7th inst., at twelve o'clock at 
noon precisely, a large lot of firm and lasting Resentment 
against Lord North (the property of Lord John Caven- 
dish). As it has been basely adulterated by a mixture of 
the Coalition, it will be Sold so Cheap that a Stamp Re- 
ceipt will not be necessary. N.B. His Lordship's friends 
advised him to put up his Duplicity in the above Lot, 

* This was a sly hit at the New Eeceipt Stamp Act, of which Lord John 
Cavendish was in favour. 

f The Reverend Mr. Marsh, accused of kidnapping Galway and Milnes's 


but, as he thinks it may yet be of Service to him, he 
was not willing to part with it." 

" To be Sold by Auction ! Who bids more than the 
Comptroller? Agoing! Agoing! A fine, smart, dap- 
per, Hibernian Orator, at the shameful price of a turnspit 
to the Jacobites ! Agoing, gentlemen, agoing ! shame- 
ful little busybody! View him! Hear him harangue 
the mob ! Gentlemen, consider he is worth more than 
that to pay his expenses in the Diligence, and send him 
round the country to talk as much in favour of Addresses 
as he has heretofore calumniated them. Fine change! 
Besides, gentlemen, if you do not bid more honourably, 
he will possibly tack about and endeavour to gain a peti- 
tion for the removal of those he now calls his friends. 
Nobody bids more Knock the Doctor off !" 

The different species of threats had recourse to are il- 
lustrated in the following handbills : 

" MR. MOLLETT, I desire you will give me one vote at 
least for the ensuing election ; that is, either for Lord John 
Cavendish or Sir William Milner. If you refuse, you 
must give up being my tenant. R. SYKES. Tuesday, 
March 30th. (Addressed) Mr. Mollett, Swinegate." 

" In a few days will be published, The Black List : an 
account of such freemen of York as promised their votes 
to Lord John Cavendish and Sir William Milner, or one 
of them, and afterwards polled for Lord Galway and Mr. 
Milnes. By which will be proved that the inhabitants of 
this city possess the greatest share of consistency, veracity, 
gratitude, and public spirit of any men on earth." 

The elections in which John Wilkes figured as a candi- 
date, and was returned in defiance of the House of Com- 
mons which had rejected him, were productive of still 
more paper warfare ; but we must go to Hogarth after all 


for the best illustration of a parliamentary election of the 
last century. In his admirable series of The Feast, The 
Canvass, The Polling, and The Chairing, he has described 
all that can be described of a contested election. But 
there is little to point 'out which is peculiar to the period, 
beyond the costume. Let our readers carefully scan them, 
and say whether every feature of bribery, corruption, in- 
timidation, personation, and perjury have done more than 
fade in a similar scene of modern days they have yet to 
disappear. Are they not all still practised, though, per- 
haps, not so openly nor so boldly? Is not very nearly the 
same amount of corruption going on, though invisibly, 
and for a shorter space of time? 

These matters are, however, now managed differently: 
we hear no such public offers made as in the following 
advertisement, which we extract from the London Even- 
ing Post of October the 1st, 1774, on the issuing of the 
writs for the new parliament : 

" BOROUGH. A gentleman of character and fortune, 
who wishes to avoid contention and trouble, would be glad 
of a compromise against an ensuing period. A line to 
Mr. Dormer, at 24, Ludgate-hill, will meet with the most 
honourable attention." Verbum sap. ! 

Perhaps the science of corruption was never so closely 
studied or so well understood as under the government 
of Sir Robert Walpole. In the last ten years of his ad- 
ministration, the secret service money, which, in the ten 
years from 1707 to 1717 none of the purest had been 
337,960Z., had run up to 1,453,4007. It is even said that, 
when a majority was doubtful, the members of par- 
liament who were invited to this minister's parliamentary 
dinners might occasionally find a five-hundred pound-note 
folded up in their napkins. 





THE impression which one would form from a glance at 
the newspapers of the time would be that the Eighteenth 
Century was a completely lawless age so frequent, so 
daring, and so violent are the offences which they record 
against property and person. Life was as insecure in the 
very neighbourhood of London, despite the .exertions of 
the valiant, buff-coated " City trained bands" (then, to be 
sure, falling into decay and disrepute), as it is now in the 
remotest wilds of England, and, in the country, it was 
only to be protected by the force of arms. Those were, 
indeed, the " good old times," of which, as Wordsworth 
has sung of an earlier period, 

The simple plan, 

That they should take who have the power, 
And they should keep who can, 

was the order of the day, and the rule by which ? in a great 
measure, society seems still to have been governed. Yet 
the laws were very severe, and rigidly enforced ; but they 
were insufficient to repress or restrain the excesses that a 
lax system of police had given impunity to. 

Robbery on the highway by mounted highwaymen, 


armed with pistols -or footpads, with cutlasses, knives, or 
hangers, was the occurrence of every hour of the day and 
night. There were " flying highwaymen," so called from 
the speed with which they travelled (as the celebrated 
Dick Turpin), and which enabled them to appear almost 
simultaneously at places wide apart, thus giving them a 
semblance of ubiquity, baffling pursuit, and defying pre- 
caution ; " gentlemen highwaymen," who took to the road 
with a sort of chivalrous enthusiasm (as Tom King), and 
were particularly polite and gallant to ladies (like Claude 
Duval), gracefully requesting them to deliver up their 
valuables, and restoring to them any article that was dear 
to them, apologising for the alarm they had occasioned, 
and courteously wishing them good night and a pleasant 
journey; coarse, ruffianly highwaymen (of the Blueskin 
stamp), who bluntly demanded "Your money or your 
life!" or savagely ordered you to "Stand and deliver!" 
and " generous highwaymen," who, like Rob Roy Mac- 
gregor of old, levied contributions from the rich to dis- 
tribute among the poor. In fact, the romance with which 
these outrages were invested, gave to the character of the 
brigand a sort of charm in the eyes of the vulgar, which 
has survived even to our own day ; for we all know the 
avidity with which the] stories of Jack Sheppard, Richard 
Turpin, Sixteen- String Jack, and Paul Clifford, have 
been devoured by the public. We might borrow from 
these histories a description of the daring exploits of the 
freebooters of whose deeds they tell, but there is no occa- 
sion to quote from romance the newspapers can tell us 
quite enough. It was not only on Hampstead Heath, Bag- 
shot, Finchley Common, Epping Forest, Hounslow Heath, 
Shooter's Hill, and Blackheath that the traveller had to 
dread the robber's pistol: Whitechapel, Holborn, the 


Strand, and Shoreditch were all infested ; Piccadilly was 
dangerous after dark ; Clerkenwell and Islington next to 
impassable. We are not exaggerating; history bears out 
our assertions. A design was formed in 1 728 to stop the 
coach of the Queen of George the Second, on her way 
to Saint James's, as she returned from a supper in the 
City, and rob her of her jewels; George the Fourth, when 
Prince of Wales, and the Duke of York were stopped one 
night on their way home in a hackney-coach, and robbed 
in Berkeley-square; in 1772, Doctor Dodd, who was 
afterwards hung for forgery, was stopped by a single high- 
wayman " near Pancras," who fired at him and robbed 
him, and was executed for the offence at Tyburn on the 
20th of January, 1773. 

Such was the state of things in 1744, that the lord 
mayor and aldermen of London carried an address to the 
king, representing that " divers confederacies of great 
numbers of evil-disposed persons, armed with bludgeons? 
pistols, cutlasses, and other dangerous weapons, infest not 
only the private lanes and passages, but likewise the 
public streets and places of usual concourse, and commit 
most daring outrages upon the persons of your majestie's 
good subjects, whose affairs oblige them to pass through 
the streets, by terrifying, robbing, and wounding them; 
and these acts are frequently perpetrated at such times as 
were heretofore deem'd hours of security." The address 
concluded with the following prayer : " Permit us, Sir, to 
express our hopes that a speedy, rigorous, and exemplary 
execution of the laws upon the persons of offenders, as 
they shall fall into the hands of justice, may, under your 
majestie's princely wisdom, conduce greatly to the sup- 
pressing these enormities, by striking terror into the 
wicked, and preventing others entering into such evil 


courses." To which the king replied, " Nothing shall be 
wanting on my part to put the laws in execution, to sup- 
port the magistrates rigorously to punish such heinous 

Smollett gives us a similar account : " Thieves and 
robbers were now become more desperate and savage than 
ever they had appeared since mankind was civilised. In 
the exercise of their rapine, they wounded, maimed, and 
even murdered the unhappy sufferers through a wanton- 
ness of barbarity." And he thus accounts for this law- 
lessness : " This defect, in a great measure, arose from an 
absurd notion that laws necessary to prevent those acts of 
cruelty, violence, and rapine, would be incompatible with 
the liberty of British subjects ; a notion that confounds all 
distinctions between liberty and brutal licentiousness, as if 
that freedom was desirable in the enjoyment of which 
people find no security for their lives or effects." 

Fielding, in his "Inquiry into the Causes of the 
Increase of Robbers," draws a terrible picture of the 
audacity of these predatory gangs : 

"Have not," he asks, "some of these (known high- 
waymen) committed robberies in open daylight, in the 
sight of many people, and have afterwards rode silently 
and triumphantly through the neighbouring towns with- 
out any danger or molestation? This happens to every 
rogue who has become eminent for his audaciousness, and 
is thought to be desperate; and is, in a more particular 
manner, the case of great and numerous gangs, many of 
which have for a long time committed the most open out- 
rages in defiance of the law. Officers of justice have 
owned to me that they have passed by such with warrants 
in their pockets against them, without daring to appre- 
hend them ; and, indeed, they could not be blamed for 


not exposing themselves to sure destruction, for it is a 
melancholy truth that, at this very day, a rogue no sooner 
gives the alarm within certain purlieus, than twenty or 
thirty armed villains are found ready to come to his 

In 1752, Walpole writes Sir Horace Mann: "One is 
forced to travel, even at noon, as if one were going to 

"London is really dangerous at this time," writes 
Shenstone to Jago (March, 1744); "the pickpockets, 
formerly content with mere filching, make no scruple to 
knock people down with bludgeons in Fleet-street and the 
Strand, and that at no later hour than eight o'clock at 
night ; but, in the Piazzas, Covent Garden, they come in 
large bodies, armed with couteaus^ and attack whole 
parties, so that the danger of coming out of the play- 
houses is of some weight in the opposite scale, when I am 
disposed to go to them oftener than I ought." 

Colonel Landmann, in his "Adventures and Recol- 
lections," relates, that on one fine Sunday afternoon, 
about 1790, as a gentleman sat on his terrace at Black- 
heath, among hosts of promenaders, a fashionably-dressed 
person, mounted on a fine horse, rode up, and exclaiming 
aloud, "How are you, my dear fellow? What a long 
time it is since you gave me a call! Come and dine 
with me to-morrow ; you will meet some good fellows," 
added, in a fierce "aside," that, if he did not quietly 
deliver up his watch and purse, he was a dead man, at 
the same time drawing a pistol stealthily from his pocket. 
The gentleman knew that there was no resource but to 
comply; and the highwayman exclaiming aloud that he 
was " a damned good fellow," cantered gaily away 


Horace Walpole relates a similar story to Mann (Sep- 
tember 30th, 1750) : "I was sitting in my own dining- 
room on Sunday night the clock had not struck eleven 
when I heard a loud cry of ' Stop thief!' A highway- 
man had attacked a post-chaise in Piccadilly, within fifty 
yards of the house. The fellow was pursued, rode over 
the watchman, almost killed him, and escaped." 

To illustrate these facts by giving all the extracts we 
possess confirmatory of them, would be impossible within 
the compass of the present chapter ; we shall therefore 
content ourselves with publishing a few of the most 
remarkable. But first let us show how significantly the 
danger is told in the reports of the means taken to provide 
against it. 

In 1763, the "Annual Register" states, under the date of 
"October 21st: A horse patrol, under the direction of 
Sir John Fielding, is fixed upon the several roads near 
the metropolis, for the protection of his majesty's subjects. 
The patrol consists of eight persons, well mounted and 
armed." This, however, appears to have been quite in- 
effectual; for, in 1780, we find from a "History of the 
Parish of Clerkenwell," that " it was customary for tra- 
vellers coming to town to remain all night at the Angel, 
at Islington, rather than push forward in the dark, as the 
road was bad and infested by robbers." And further, 
"Persons walking from the City to Islington, in the 
evening, waited near the end of St. John-street, until a 
sufficient party had collected, who were then escorted by 
an armed patrol appointed for that purpose." We have 
already stated that the proprietors of Marybone and 
Ranelagh Gardens advertised " a suitable guard stationed 
upon the road;" that the stage-coaches were notified to 
be "well guarded;" and that, in 1729, passengers, even 


through the streets of London, preferred walking to riding 
in a hackney-coach, "on account that they are in a 
readier posture to defend themselves, or call out for aid if 
attacked." We may add to these statements two notices 
issued by the proprietors of Sadler's Wells in 1783, as 
instances of the feeling of insecurity under which people 
must have laboured even in the suburbs. A programme 
of the entertainments winds up thus : " A horse patrol will 
be sent in the New-road, that night, for the protection of 
the nobility and gentry who go from the squares and that 
end of the town. The road also towards the City will be 
properly guarded." 

"June, 1783. Patrols of horse and foot are stationed 
from Sadler's Wells-gate, along the New-road, to Totten- 
ham-court-road turnpike; likewise from the City-road to 
Moorfields. Also to St. John's-street, and across the 
Spaw-fields to Rosoman-row, from the hours of eight to 

These were no groundless apprehensions, for not only 
were the highwaymen and footpads numerous, but they 
seemed to enjoy the wildest impunity. To quote in- 
stances from the lives and exploits of Turpin, Sheppard, 
or Claude Duval will be unnecessary, after giving a few 
passages in the life of Burnworth. After the attack of 
the gang, of which he was the leader, upon the Earl of 
Starborough, " the number of atrocious violations of the 
law which now daily took place alarmed all those who 
had a regard for order and good government, and the 
king issued a proclamation for apprehending the offenders, 
and a pardon was offered to any one who would impeach 
his accomplices, except Burnworth, who was justly consi- 
dered as the principal of the gang. A proclamation was 


issued, and 300/. offered for taking him into custody ; 
but, notwithstanding this, he still appeared at large, and 
gave the following among other proofs of his audacity. 
Sitting down at the door of a public-house in Holborn, 
where he was well known, he called for a pint of beer, 
and drank it, holding a pistol in his hand by way of pro- 
tection; he then went off 1 with the greatest apparent 
unconcern." So says the "Newgate Calendar." But here 
is a still more striking instance of his effrontery : " On 
the approach of evening, he and his gang ventured to- 
wards London, and, having got as far as Turnmill-street, 
the keeper of Clerkenwell Bridewell happening to see 
them, called to Burnworth, and said he wanted to speak 
with him. Burnworth hesitated, but, the other assuring 
him that he intended no injury, and the thief being con- 
fident that his associates would not desert him, swore he 
did not regard the keeper, whom he advanced to meet 
with a pistol in his hand, the other miscreants walking on 
the opposite side of the street, armed with cutlasses and 
pistols. This singular spectacle attracted the attention of 
the populace; a considerable crowd soon gathered round 
them, on which Burnworth joined his companions, who 
now thought their safest plan would be to retreat towards 
the fields ; wherefore they kept together, and, facing the 
people, retired in a body, presenting their pistols, and 
swearing they would fire on any who should offer to 
molest them." 

The "considerable crowd" was evidently completely 
paralysed ; not one among them ventured to contend for 
the 300/. reward ! And, after this, must we not admit 
that "there is honour among thieves?" None of that 
desperate gang, which over and over again staked their 


lives against a watch or a purse, cared to win 3007., and, 
at the same time, purchase a pardon for themselves, by 
betraying their leader and accomplice ! 

But what must the fields have been to which this 
daring band retired? More dangerous, we should think, 
than the backwoods of America when colonisation first 
began ! Burnworth's, however, is not the only case in 
which audacity has served to shield guilt and baffle even 
a superior force by striking it motionless with astonish- 

Here are a few of the paragraphs with which the news- 
papers of the time were filled : 

" The postboy, coming with the Norwich mail from 
Epping, was stopped by the High Stone, near Leyton- 
stone, about four in the morning, by a single highwayman, 
who took the bags, in all about eighteen, and rode off 
with full speed." Martin's Miscellany, April, 1757. 

" September 1 1 th. A gentleman was stopped in Hoi- 
born, about twelve at night, by two footpads, who, on the 
gentleman's making resistance, shot him dead, and then 
robbed him. Some of the villains have since been appre- 
hended." Annual Register for 1758. 

" February 24th. An apothecary in Devonshire-street, 
near Queen's-square, was, one night last month, attacked 
by two ruffians in Red Lion-street, who, presenting fire- 
arms and menacing him with death if he resisted or cried 
out, carried him to Black Mary's Hole, when, by the light 
of a lantern, perceiving that he was not the intended per- 
son, they left him there without robbing him. This mys- 
terious transaction has not yet been cleared up, though 
they are suspected to be the same fellows who lately sent 
threatening letters to Mr. Nelson, an apothecary in Hoi- 


born, and another tradesman." Annual Register for 

" One Richard Watson, tollman of Marybone turnpike, 
was found barbarously murdered in his toll-house; upon 
which, and some attempts made on other toll-houses, the 
trustees of turnpikes have come to a resolution to increase 
the number of toll-gatherers, and to furnish them with 
arms, strictly enjoining them at the same time not to keep 
any money at the toll-bars after eight o'clock at night." 
July 23rd. Annual Register for 1763. 

"A man was lately robbed and barbarously murdered on 
the road to llatcliffe Cross. Finding but twopence in his 
pocket, they first broke one of his arms, then tied a great 
stone about his neck and threw him into a ditch, having 
first shot at and mangled his face in a most horrid manner. 
The unhappy man had, notwithstanding, scrambled out 
of the ditch into the road, but expired soon after he was 
found; and, two days after, another man was found 
murdered in the Mile-End-road." October \lth. Annual 
Register for 1763. 

" Murders, robberies (many of them attended with acts 
of cruelty), and threatening letters were never perhaps 
more frequent about this city than during this last month. 
One highwayman in particular, by the name of the 
* Flying Highwayman,' engrosses the conversation of most 
of the towns within twenty miles of London, as he has 
occasionally visited all the public roads round the metro- 
polis, and has collected several sums. He rides upon 
three different horses a grey, a sorrel, and a black one 
the last of which has a bald face, to hide which he gene- 
rally hangs on a black cat's-skin. He has leaped over 
Colnbrook turnpike a dozen of times within this fort- 
night, and is now well known to most of the turnpike- 


men on the different roads about town." December 3lst. 
Annual Register for 1761. 

" Sunday night, about ten o'clock, Mr. Morris, a linen- 
draper in Holborn, coming to town from Newington-butts, 
was knocked down near the Obelisk in St. George's-fields 
by two footpads, who robbed him of his watch, three 
pounds in money, and a pair of silver buckles, which they 
took out of his shoes." Westminster Journal, October 29, 

" On Thursday evening, the day of the Middlesex elec- 
tion, as Captain Stapleton, of New Bond-street, was re- 
turning to town from Richmond in a post-chaise, he was 
stopped near Gunnersbury-lane by two highwaymen, well 
mounted, who demanded his money; but the captain 
jocularly calling out 'Wilkes and Glynn for ever !' the 
highwaymen generously told him to drive on, and, de- 
claring that they would never knowingly rob a friend to 
the public cause, proved that the sons of liberty are not 
destitute of honour, even when they descend to be thieves." 
Westminster Journal, same day. 

This is indeed one of the oddities of the subject, re- 
minding us of Jack Bannister, who was allowed to pass, 
with many apologies, by the pads who had stopped him, 
when they recognised the popular actor; but here is a 
more tragic tale, from the Westminster Journal of the 
same day: 

"On Wednesday night, Mr. Wearing, silver- worker 
in Thames-street, was knocked down in the City-road by 
two footpads, who robbed him of his watch, and about 
two pounds. His skull is so terribly fractured that he 
now lies without hopes of recovery." 

" One highwayman has infested the roads between 
Hoddesdon and Hertford for seven weeks past. When 


he has committed a robbery he takes shelter in the woods. 
He is often seen by the country people, who are afraid to 
attack him, as he is armed with a blunderbuss and two 
pair of pistols." Public Advertiser, June 16, 1775. 

" Tuesday night, a gang of footpads made their appear- 
ance in the middle quarter of Moorfields, armed with 
pistols and cutlasses, and robbed every person that went 
that way until half an hour after nine, and then decamped 
to some other part. The last man they stopped having 
only a shilling in his pocket, they cut him across his head 
in a terrible manner. The inhabitants about Moorfields 
have come to a resolution of going armed in a body about 
their neighbourhood every night until eleven o'clock, to 
clear it of thieves." Old British Spy, September 21, 

We have selected these extracts not so much on ac- 
count of the audacity of the acts committed as for their 
brevity, and because most of them are authenticated with 
the names and addresses of the parties attacked ; and 
those from the "Annual Register" more especially, because 
we found the string of them already collected in Mr. 
Knight's "London." 

But the " Knights of the Road " and " Gentlemen of 
the Pad" were not always professed thieves. Many a 
distressed tradesman resorted to the expedient for the 
nonce as the last desperate attempt to meet a bill falling 
due on the morrow, and instances were not rare of persons 
being stopped by men who, although disguised by crapes 
or masks, might be recognised by their voices, and who 
have robbed the travellers with a promise of returning the 
money at a certain place and hour, in a given time, on a 
pledge of secrecy one which was generally fulfilled as, 
they " were in great want of the money in their business 


for a few days." Or cases similar to the following now 
and then occurred, telling a sad tale of struggles against 
embarrassments : 

"January 6t/t. On Wednesday, Mr. Browar, print- 
cutter, near Aldersgate-street, was attacked on the road to 
Enfield by a single highwayman, whom he recollected to 
be a tradesman in the City. He accordingly called him 
by his name, when the robber shot himself through the 
head." Universal Magazine, February, 1775. 

Pretended robberies were also enacted, as it would 
appear from the following paragraph, which we take from 
the " Gentleman's Monthly Intelligencer " of the London 
Magazine for August, 1735: 

" July 9th. Saturday. A cheesefactor, who lives near 
Namptwich, and his brother, a cheesemonger in London, 
stood in the pillory at Warwick for a pretended robbery 
concerted between them ; the one having robbed the other 
of two hundred guineas on the highway in order to sue 
the hundred for the said sum. They were, besides, fined 
fifty pounds each, and twenty pounds to defray the ex- 
penses of the county, and obliged to give three hundred 
pounds bail for their good behaviour for three years." 

But, as this is the only case of the kind we have met 
with, we are perhaps no more justified in mentioning it 
as a characteristic of the century than any future chro- 
nicler might be in giving a recent case of sinking a ship 
for the sake of the insurance effected on it, as a character- 
istic offence of the present age. 

One or two more instances of the audacity of highway- 
men, and the spirit of romance in which they contrived 
to enwrap themselves, and (we wish we could say it in 
two senses) we have done with them : 

" The notorious highwayman Turpin had formed a sort 


of partnership with one King ; they robbed in concert for 
some years, but the firm was dissolved rather tragically, in 
consequence of a horse having been stolen from a Mr. 
Major one Saturday night, which, through the exertions 
of a Mr. Boyes, was discovered at the Red Lion in White- 
chapel on the Monday. The brother of King went for it, 
was secured, and, being alarmed, told his detainers, on 
being promised his liberty, that there was a lusty man in 
a white duffil coat waiting for the horse in Red Lion- 
street. Mr. Boyes went out to look, and recognised King, 
and attempted to take him into custody. King, upon 
this, drew a pistol, and presented it at Mr. Boyes : it 
snapped, but did not go off. Turpin, who was close by, 
then rode up, when King called out to him, ' Dick, shoot, 

or we are taken, by G !' Upon this Turpin fired, and 

missed the intended victim, but shot King, who exclaimed, 
( Dick, you have killed me !' Turpin rode off, and King 
died a week afterwards of the wound." 

The next extract relates to one of the class of " gentle- 
men highwaymen:" 

" One MacLean, some years later than Turpin, was the 
great highwayman of the day. His gentlemanly deport- 
ment was extolled, and a sort of admiration kindled for 
him in the public mind ; his crimes were gaily recounted 
by those who did not suffer from them ; and the excited 
tales told produced no doubt a crop of young aspirants to 
succeed him on the road and at the gallows. The ladies 
took great notice of him while he was in Newgate, and 
kept him well supplied with money. He finally made his 
exit at Tyburn, with the brief prayer, * Oh, God, forgive 
my enemies, bless my friends, and receive my soul!' ' 

We are indebted for these two contributions to Mr. D. 
M. Aird ; and another informant, who " saw c Sixteen- 



String Jack' pass along the Oxford-road, on a hurdle, on 
his way to Tyburn for execution," gives us an idea of the 
almost princely style in which some of these highwaymen 
lived. She was the god-daughter of the wife of one 
Robert Martin, who appears to have been a famous mail- 
robber of his day, and was in the habit of occasionally 
paying long visits to her godmother, in the course of 
which she was surprised at the magnificence in which 
they lived. A sideboard of costly plate, and the constant 
attendance of a livery servant at meals, appear to have 
excited her wonder and admiration most forcibly. " But," 
to quote her own words, " young as I was, I thought there 
was something wrong. Martin would appear uneasy and 
fidgety at every knock at the door. I had also remarked 
that he was in the habit of leaving his home at night : his 
wife used in vain to implore him not to go. I have seen 
her cling to him, and, with tears in her eyes, exclaim, 
( Now, Robert, do not go : you know what all this must 
end in!' But, disengaging himself from her, he used to 
depart, and I saw nothing more of him till the morning, 
when he looked haggard and fatigued. My mother, one 
day calling to see me, observed the same symptoms of a 
troubled conscience about him, and, in alarm, took me 
home ; and, a short time afterwards, we heard that he had 
been apprehended, tried, and found guilty of a highway 
robbery. He was hanged at Tyburn, and his wife reduced 
to the greatest poverty." 

These, then, we may conceive, were the days when 
travellers who lived within what is now a threepenny ride 
of the City, buckled on their weapons, and were armed 
cap-a-pie, before they left London for their homes ; when 
gentlemen who understood the management of a pistol 
little better than their horses, rashly persisted in carrying 


at least a brace in each coat-pocket, and sallied forth, 
overflowing with courage and with deadly thoughts of 
resistance floating in their brains thoughts which floated 
out of their fingers' ends on the approach of a suspicious- 
looking horseman or a burly passer-by; when fireside 
stories all turned upon some midnight encounter with 
armed and daring robbers; and old ladies returning from 
taking a "dish of tea" with a friend, brimful of all the 
tales they had heard of their host's dispersing a mighty 
band single-handed, came hurrying through the streets, 
carefully shunning some dark court or gloomy alley, and 
raising their little lanterns to reconnoitre a suspicious 
object, which perhaps turned out to be a handpost or a 
pump in fact, " shying " desperately at everything they 
could not see distinctly, coming to a dead halt, running 
round, turning back, or fairly " making a bolt of it." 

But undoubtedly this state of things was anything but 
entertaining to the parties concerned, for robbery was then 
a system of regular and business-like organisation. The 
highwaymen had their meeting-rooms, where the designs 
of robberies were discussed and matured; their regular 
beats, rides, or walks, which were generally honourably 
observed ; their caverns and places of secrecy for the 
lodgment of their booty and division of their spoils, in 
secluded parts ; and, it would even seem, they kept 
regular ledger accounts of their transactions, for we find 
in the Westminster Journal of February the 19th, 1774, 
the following statement : 

"Friday, those two notorious fellows, Overend and 
Whitall, who some time since broke out of the New Gaol, 
South wark, and for the apprehending whom a very con- 
siderable reward was offered by the high-sheriff of the 
county of Surrey, were, by the vigilance of Sir John 



Fielding's people, taken into custody at a house in Long- 
lane, and committed to New Prison. On searching their 
apartments, a book was found containing an account of 
the robberies they have since committed." 

Kobberies attended with violence were more frequent 
and various than had ever been known. Every means to 
entrap the unwary was adopted. Thus we read of cellar 
flaps being suddenly let down as the incautious passenger 
walked over them, and the victim, thus suddenly precipi- 
tated into some den of horror, was plundered, and his 
body foully disposed of; of persons, carrying bundles in 
the streets, being tripped up by a rope held by two con- 
federates across the way, and their property taken from 
them ; or of some such daring act as the following : 

" Wednesday morning, two men armed with cutlasses 
went into a shop in Whitechapel, and, meeting with the 
mistress, demanded her money. On her endeavouring to 
call for assistance, they cut her across the arms, &c., and 
then robbed her of forty pounds in cash." From the 
Westminster Journal of January 30, 1773. 

Here is another desperate robbery, related in the British 
Gazette of May 8, 1796: 

" Tuesday night, between ten and eleven o'clock, some 
villains knocked at the door of Mr. Keys, baker, of Golden- 
lane, and, immediately on its being opened by Mr. Keys, 
one of them seized him, and held a pistol to his head, 
while the other two searched the drawers, &c. They stayed 
in the house near an hour, and, after robbing Mr. Keys 
of his watch and a considerable sum of money, and several 
other articles of value, they departed, very politely wish- 
ing him a good night." 

Two more instances will suffice to show the frequency 
and daring nature of these robberies : 


"On Monday night, the house of Mr. Russell, of 
Greenwich, was broken open and entered by twelve men, 
who bound every one in the house with cords, and carried 
off furniture, wearing apparel, and plate to a considerable 
amount. They are supposed to have been watermen, as 
they were seen to go into a boat with the property, and 
put off for the Essex shore." British Gazette of February 
12, 1792. 

" On Sunday night last, at ten o'clock, a most daring 
robbery was committed at a small public-house on the 
Woolwich road, known by the sign of the Antigallican, 
adjoining Hanging Wood, by some desperate yillains, who, 
entering the house, bound the master and mistress and all 
the servants, with two men who were drinking there. They 
then began to ransack the house of linen and cash to the 
amount of sixty pounds, afterwards sat down and drank 
and smoked their pipes till three o'clock in the morning, 
and then took their leave. It is to be observed that two 
brewer's servants on duty, passing by at eleven o'clock, 
saw a light in the house, and knocked at the door, whom 
the desperadoes let in, and seized and confined them also. 
They were seen going afterwards to the water-side, where 
a boat was ready to receive them, in which they effected 
their escape." British Gazette of the same day. 

All these depredators, we should opine, were allied to 
the class of Thames pirates. 

Of another gang it is recorded, that " their next robbery 
was at the house of a grocer in Thames-street. The watch- 
man passing by as they were packing up their booty, 
Bellamy seized him, and obliged him to put out his 
candle to prevent any alarm being given. Having kept 
him till they were ready to go off with their plunder, 
they took him to the side of the Thames, and threatened 


to throw him in if he would not throw in his lantern and 
staff. It need not be said that the poor man was obliged 
to comply with their injunctions." This statement bears 
ample testimony to the miserable inefficiency of the poor 
old guardians of the night ; and we cannot help thanking 
kind fate that we were born in the days of gas, and that, 
with all their faults, the police (if we can be allowed to 
speak metaphorically for once) watch over our pillow. 




OF Burnworth's gang we read : " The circumstance of 
Marjoram having turned evidence "being the public topic 
of conversation, John Barton provided a loaded pistol, 
and placing himself near Goldsmiths' Hall, took an op- 
portunity, when the officers were conducting Marjoram 
before the lord mayor, to fire at him; but Marjoram, 
observing him advancing, stooped down, so that the ball 
grazed his back only. The suddenness of this action, 
and the surprise it occasioned, gave Barton an oppor- 
tunity of escaping." 

Even the pickpockets accompanied their depredations 
with acts of violence, as we may learn from the Gazetteer 
of July the 17th,. 1789: 

" To such daring outrages have pickpockets arrived, 
that, on Tuesday last, as the Society of Sols was going 
into Pentonville Chapel, Islington, eight or ten sur- 
rounded a gentleman who lives near the spot, and was 
standing to see the Society pass. They jostled him, and 
turned his breeches-pockets out. He cried aloud, ' Take 
care of your pockets !' In a few minutes one came up to 
him, and, without speaking a word, struck him a violent 
blow on the head, which knocked him down. A person 


who was standing near informed the gentleman that his 
pocket was picked, on which they knocked him down 
also, and dragged him about the road by his hair, and 
then dispersed, no person choosing to secure them, though 
it was noonday, and hundreds present." 

These were strange scenes for the streets of such a 
metropolis to witness; or, in admirable keeping with the 
character of the times, a struggle between a band of 
smugglers and a troop of soldiers would take place on 
Blackfriars-bridge, such as there was in 1778. These 
smugglers took advantage of the unprotected state of the 
City streets, for some time even making a depot for their 
contraband stores at the Fleet Prison ! They had store- 
houses and places of safe deposit for their wares in all 
parts of London; and from the Westminster Journal of 
October the 29th, 1774, we find they used to carry their 
articles pretty openly : 

" Wednesday morning early, three custom-house officers 
stopped a post-chaise and four on the Deptford-road,'in 
which were Indian goods to the amount of some hundred 
pounds, which they seized. It is said they were designed 
for a capital smuggler at the west-end of the town, and 
that the officers got the information by making one of his 
servants drunk." 

In another paper we find that, in the article of tea 
alone, the revenue was estimated, in 1784, to be de- 
frauded to the extent of one million sterling annually ! 

At another time we read of a band of smugglers, armed 
to the teeth, escorting a cavalcade of "run" goods, as 
they were termed, in the very face of the officers, from 
Poole to London. The caravan consisted of some eight 
or ten waggons and carts, drawn by six, four, and two 
horses respectively, and the officers did not dare to meddle 


with its progress until it arrived in the streets of London, 
when the result of a pitched battle was, that the con- 
stables and revenue officers were worsted, and the smug- 
glers carried their merchandise to its destination in 
safety, or, as the newspaper account has it, "re-formed 
the procession, and carried their arms, which consisted of 
blunderbusses, pistols, cutlasses," &c. 

Fierce, indeed, and for life or death, were these en- 
counters ; for, from the Continent being closed to us by 
successive wars, and foreign goods consequently com- 
manding a high price in the market which could be legi- 
timately supplied with them, the gains of these smugglers 
were enormous ; although not greater than their risks, 
for, by the Smuggling Act of 1747, all magistrates and 
justices of the peace were enjoined to use every effort to 
apprehend them, on pain of being convicted of " an high 
misdemeanour ;" to " repel force by force," and adopt 
" any violence and hostilities which may be necessary to 
suppress and subdue them, or bring them to justice;" and 
to " raise the posse comitatus, or use the whole power of 
the county capable of bearing arms, and any military 
force in those parts, to assist them." For, " the assem- 
bling and going armed, to the number of three, to assist 
in any sort of smuggling, or receiving or protecting run 
goods, or rescuing persons guilty, and the resisting officers 
of the customs or excise by the like number of armed 
men, are made felony, without benefit of the clergy." 

But there was another kind of smuggling occasionally 
going on in the streets of London, and the hackney-coach 
or chair was frequently employed in carrying newly-dead 
and disinterred bodies from the churchyards to the sur- 
geons ! Assisted, like all the other crimes, by the ineffi- 
ciency of the police force and the dreariness of the streets, 


it was also much encouraged by the high price which, in 
a scarcity of "subjects," the anatomists would pay for a 
body for the purpose of dissection. Large parties of 
" body-snatchers," or " resurrectionists" often in league 
with the parish sextons or gravediggers were constantly 
prowling about, and watching around the churchyards; 
and, the night after a funeral, they would disinter the 
body, toss it into a sack, or a chair, and carry it off to the 

In the winter of 1778-9, it is estimated that this trade 
was carried on in London to the extent of something like 
fifty or a hundred bodies weekly. Some ludicrous stories 
have been told of the doings of the resurrection-men. 
One runs thus: A young swain, who was returning from 
courting, chanced to observe, as his way lay past a church- 
yard, a cart standing at the gate, in which a figure, 
dressed in a great-coat and slouched hat, was sitting, erect 
and stiff. Lubin, having a glimmering of the truth 
dawning upon his mind, jumped into the cart, and, 
finding his suspicions correct, stripped the corpse of its 
great-coat and hat, and putting them on himself, uncere- 
moniously placed it by the roadside, and took its seat in 
the same grave posture in which it had been propped up. 
On the return of the body-snatchers from filling up the 
grave which they had robbed, one jumped up to each side 
of the fancied corpse, and the horse was started off at a 
gallop, each fellow taking hold of one of the arms to 
steady and support their prize. After a short time the 
warmth of the body startled one of the rascals, who 
exclaimed to his companion, " Why, Jack, the body's 
warm !" " Ay," cries Lubin, turning fiercely upon them, 
" and I'll warm you in a minute, by G !" The fel- 
lows, with a wild shriek, sprang out of the cart, and, as 


they rolled over in the mud, Lubin drove on, with a horse 
and cart, great-coat, and hat, to begin his married life 
with, for it need not be said that they were never claimed. 

Another band of resurrectionists alighted upon a man 
who was lying, drunk and insensible, in the streets, and 
"bagging" him, carried him off to an anatomist, to whom 
they sold him. The unfortunate bacchanalian was duly 
stowed away in the dark cellar for dissection in the 
morning, but, on coming to his senses during the night, 
shouted for his liberty. On the return of the snatchers 
with another body, the surgeon told them of the decep- 
tion, and, much embarrassed by the awkwardness of the 
case, demanded what he was to do with his noisy subject? 
" What are you to do ?" they repeated, coolly ; " why, 
keep him till you want him." 

There was another class of desperadoes, happily now 
extinct, who were called " invisible thieves," from the 
manner in which they conducted their operations. It was 
about the year 1 730 that letters were freely circulated to 
wealthy persons, threatening them that, unless they de- 
posited a certain sum of money in a particular place, they 
would be assassinated, or their houses set on fire. These 
threats were frequently carried into execution, till, from 
fear of the consequences, their extortionate requests were 
pretty generally complied with. One rich merchant in 
Bristol, who resisted their demands, had his house re- 
duced to ashes by these miscreants; and presuming upon 
the impunity they enjoyed, they had at last threatened 
one of the judges, and this seems to have led to the 
adoption of vigorous measures for the protection of the 
public against their alarming proceedings : 

"William Lee, Esquire, one of the judges of the 
King's Bench, having received a letter signed * Honesty, 


Trusty, Fidelity/ requiring him to lend them fifty pounds, 
and to lay it in a certain place therein mentioned, and 
threatening to murder him in case of refusal, his majesty 
has promised his most gracious pardon, and two hundred 
pounds reward, to any one who shall discover his accom- 
plice or accomplices in writing or sending the said 
letter." London Magazine, December, 1735. 

Soon afterwards, the panic occasioned by the increasing 
audacity of these invisible bands became so great that the 
king issued a special proclamation, forbidding persons 
from acceding to their demands, and setting a reward of 
three hundred pounds upon the heads of the incendiary 
letter-senders a step which, in a short time, put a stop to 
their infamous practices. 

Street tumults, it may be imagined, were frequent, and 
sometimes rose to an extent that required the use of mili- 
tary force to repress; the mob were fond of displaying 
their power, and that power was, for a time, almost 
tacitly acknowledged to be absolute. In the forty-ninth 
number of the Covent Garden Journal, the assumed 
rights and privileges of the mob are recited : such as those 
of insulting all passengers on the river Thames ; obstruct- 
ing the footpaths with chairs and wheelbarrows, and the 
streets with cars, drays, and waggons; and the disputing 
possession of the country roads, so that " a gentleman may 
go a voyage at sea with little more hazard than he can 
travel ten miles from >. the metropolis." Encouraged by 
success, they at length claimed the exclusive right to the 
parks on Sunday evenings; and ladies, without regard to 
their rank or beauty, were summarily expelled from " the 
people's ground" by the popular means of " mobbing." 

In 1716, the mob was made the instrument of the 
Jacobite faction, and in all their outbreaks and tumults, 


from whatever cause arising, would contrive to exhibit a 
dislike to the Hanoverian succession not that they 
cared two straws about the matter, or knew any more ; 
but a mob must have some grievance to keep it together, 
and the Jacobites had flung them this bone of contention 
to pick when their other food for complaint was ex- 
hausted. Their fury against the newly-established order 
of things exhibited itself in such excesses, that, at last, 
the Whig clubs banded themselves into parties to sup- 
press them. Fierce fights ensued: the Whig clubs, 
meeting at staunch Hanoverian taverns, would sally forth, 
on being apprised that there was a mob in the neighbour- 
hood, and, with but one or two exceptions, the mob got 
the worst of it. The Loyal Society, at the Roebuck, in 
Cheapside, was one of the most conspicuous in this 
guerilla warfare. The taverns where the "Loyalists" 
assembled went by the name of Mug-houses, and hence 
the disturbances (which lasted for two or three years) 
are known to history as the " Mug-house riots." 

But there were feuds even among this commonwealth ; 
for, in May and June, 1717, open war was declared between 
the butchers and the footmen of the city of Westminster, 
in which the former made an alliance with all their 
brethren of the London markets, and the latter with the 
Bridewell boys. The weavers were also very turbulent 
about this time, and attacked all ladies whom they met in 
the streets wearing foreign silks and satins. At a later 
period, the London mobs delighted in storming the 
hearses, and attacking the mourners at funerals ; in tear- 
ing up the pavements before, and breaking the windows, 
and even pulling down the houses of persons who offended 
them. At different times the Irish, the Portuguese, the 
Catholics, the Jews, and the Quakers, were the objects of 


King Mob's aversion, and scenes as closely bordering upon 
anarchy as many that have received the name were con- 
stantly occurring. 

A few specimens : 

"April 13^. A quarrel happened in Stepney-fields 
between some English and Portuguese sailors, in which 
three of the former were killed." Annual Register for 

" April 15th. This evening, as an English sailor was 
walking in Mill-yard, Whitechapel, he was stabbed in the 
back by a Portuguese sailor, and instantly died. The 
murderer was pursued to Rag Fair, where the mob nailed 
him by his ear to the wall. Some time after he broke 
from thence, with the loss of a part of it, and ran; but the 
mob were so incensed that they followed, cut and wounded 
him with knives, till, at last,, he either fell or threw him- 
self into a puddle of water, where he died." From the 

A Jew seizes the opportunity of a consternation occa- 
sioned by an accident at the postern-gate of the Tower, to 
pick a sailor's pocket, and the sailors, in a body, retaliate 
upon the whole community: 

" June 4th. During the consternation occasioned by 
the accident, a sailor had his pocket picked by a Jew, 
who, after undergoing the usual discipline of ducking, 
hopped out of the water, pretending to have his leg broke, 
and was carried off by some of his brethren. But the 
sailors, discovering the trick, and considering it as a 
cheat, pursued him to Duke's-place, when at first they were 
beaten off by the inhabitants ; but, presently returning' 
with a fresh reinforcement, they attacked the place, 
entered three houses, threw everything out of the win- 
dows, broke the glasses, tore the beds, and ripped up the 


wainscot, leaving the houses in the most ruinous condi- 
tion. With the furniture, three children sick of the small- 
pox were thrown out of the window." Annual Register 
for 1763. 

An execution or a parliamentary election was, of course, 
a gala for his Majesty King Mob. At an execution in 1721, 
at Tyburn, some of the criminals had their eyes almost 
beaten out by the missiles that were flung at them; but, 
generally, the sympathies of the populace seem to have 
been with the culprit: 

" As soon as the execution of several criminals, con- 
demned at last sessions of , the Old Bailey, was over at 
Tyburn, the body of Cornelius Sanders, executed for 
stealing about fifty pounds out of the house of Mrs, White, 
in Lamb-street, Spitalfields, was carried and laid before 
her door, where, great numbers of people assembling, they 
at last grew so outrageous that a guard of soldiers was sent 
for to stop their proceedings ; notwithstanding which, 
they forced open the door, pitched out all the salmon- 
tubs, most of the household furniture, piled them on a heap, 
and set fire to them, and, to prevent the guards from ex- 
tinguishing the flames, pelted them off with stones, and 
would not disperse till the whole was consumed." An- 
nual Register for 1763. 

"May. The criminal condemned for returning from 
transportation at the sessions, and afterwards executed, 
addressed himself to the populace at Tyburn, and told 
them he could wish they would carry his body and lay it 
at the door of Mr. Parker, a butcher in the Minories, who, 
it seems, was the principal evidence against him ; which 
being accordingly done, the mob behaved so riotous be- 
fore the man's house that it was no easy matter to disperse 
them." Annual Register for 1764. 


"August 19th. A terrible storm made such an impres- 
sion on the ignorant populace assembled to see a criminal 
executed on Kennington-common, that the sheriff was 
obliged to apply to the secretaries of state for a military 
force to prevent a rescue, and it was near eight in the 
evening before he suffered." Annual Register for 1763. 

But an election was an excellent occasion for the dis- 
play of their propensities. Here is a series of scenes 
enacted at, and arising out of, the election of Lord Wark- 
worth for Westminster, on March the 15th, 1763: 

" The guard placed over a large quantity of beer pro- 
vided for the entertainment of the populace, getting drunk, 
stove the casks, and, in the struggle to get at them, a 
quarrel broke out between a party of sailors and some 
Irish chairmen, when the former, getting the better, drove 
the others from the field, and destroyed all the chairs they 
could meet with, except one, having on it these words: 
'This belongs to English chairmen.' The disturbances 
were renewed on the 1 7th, when a party of guards was 
obliged to interfere. 20th. Search being made by the 
peace officers at the houses of ill-fame about Tower-hill, 
several women of the town and some sailors were taken, 
and, next morning, carried before the justices for exami- 
nation ; but, intelligence being given to their shipmates, 
a large body of them assembled and threatened the jus- 
tices if they should proceed to commitment. The jus- 
tices applied for a guard to the commanding officer at the 
Tower, and, a few musqueteers being sent, they were 
found insufficient to intimidate the sailors, whose numbers 
increasing, a second and third reinforcement were de- 
manded, and an engagement would certainly have ensued 
but for the address of a sea officer, who, by fair words, 
called off two-thirds of the sailors, just as the word was 


given to the soldiers to fire upon them. The justices pro- 
ceeded to business, and made out the mittimus of eight of 
the street-walkers ; but in the afternoon of the same day, 
as they were going to Bridewell, under a guard of a 
sergeant and twelve men, they were rescued in Chiswell- 
street by a fresh party of sailors, who carried them off in 
triumph, after one man had been shot in the groin." 
Annual Register for 1763. 

Here is another specimen of the tumultuous disposition 
of the chairmen, which could only be checked by calling 
out the military : 

"On Wednesday night last, about twelve, there was 
such a great riot in Windmill-street, near the Haymarket, 
that near a hundred gentlemen and others were all engaged 
at one time, some with swords, and others with sticks 
and canes, wherein abundance were dangerously wounded. 
The watchmen that came to put an end to the affray were 
knocked down and barbarously used. At last the patrol 
of horse guards came, and, finding them obdurate, rode 
through them, cutting all the way with their swords ; yet 
we hear of none that were killed upon the spot, though 
many, it is thought, cannot recover of their wounds. 
When they saw their own time they gave over, and, upon 
summing up the matter, the quarrel began with two chair- 
men only." Original Weekly Journal, May 21, 1720. 

Much mischief arose out of the corrupt manner in which 
justice was administered ; the magistrates, even in the 
metropolis, being often indolent, ignorant, or mercenary 
men, while those in the country were as often distinguished 
by their cruelty, severity, and actual brutality all equally 
injurious to the cause of peace and order. The London 
magistrates were at one time notorious for receiving bribes 
from such brawlers as porters7~cEairmen, and the like, and 



openly compounding with the keepers of disorderly houses. 
Henry Fielding, in the " Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon," 
declares that during his career as a Middlesex magistrate, 
he reduced the emoluments of his office from 500Z. down 
to 300Z. a year, by adopting a purer course of conduct, 
although Smollett ungenerously insinuates that he was 
one of the class known as "Trading Westminster Justices." 
In his comedy of " Rape upon Rape," Fielding draws a 
portrait of one of these trading justices and his minions, the 
constables, in the characters of Justice Squeezum and 
Staff. The__ignorant and tyrannical country justice of the 
time is well drawn in his character of Squire Western ; 
and even Allworthy is in some haste to commit wenches 
to Bridewell for indiscreet connexions. The Justice Gob- 
ble of Smollett's "Sir Launcelot Greaves" was, no doubt, 
no exaggerated caricature, but the type of a large class. 

Neither, we may here incidentally remark, were juries 
always incorruptible, for in the London Evening Post of 
April the 2nd, 1774, it is boldly asserted that, in all crown 
cases, Middlesex special juries "are allowed an elegant 
dinner at Appleby's, and five guineas a man, if a verdict 
be given for the crown or government, otherwise they 
pay their own expenses." But what could magistrates or 
juries make of laws which hid themselves in the most 
obscure phraseology, of statutes which were purposely 
written in such a jargon as no one understood, and which, 
evenTmore than in our own day, it required hosts of 
lawyers and barristers to interpret for you ? In one of 
his Champions, Fielding, who was then becoming initiated 
in the confused jumble of the legal language, gives the 
\ following as the style of a barrister's opinion, or simple 
answer to the simple question, whether an action would 


lie for an author who had it said of him that he had no 

semble quo* si ascun trit tre gj. ft. c teant un 
, quofc est dull Jetton bien bolt ggser et le 3&esolu= 
tion to sa case l R. A. 55 s. 16. 23ien ague que as 
ubi action fuft port per un Apprentice fcel ILeg et $it 
Declare quofc Deft aboit &it tie lug quotr est Dunce and 

will get nothing by the Law. 1Et Ie Opinion liel C^OUtt 

fuit quolr Action bien gist car f^ome ^poet este Jeabie et 
nemg tarn pregnant come ascun auters sont et encore un 
bon Lawyer. Jttes (juia il aboit Irit pe il ne boet get 
ascun tfjose per le Heg Action gist. S>ic icg car si poet 
soit l^eabie ou Bull non boet gist ascun djose en le 


So much for the Norman-Latin-English of the law ! 

In a previous chapter, in which we spoke of public 
sports and amusements, we have shown what was to be 
apprehended from the mob by contumacious householders 
who refused to " light up " at the time of an illumination. 
We are not told whether the following attacks arose out 
of any such causes, but they are pretty fair samples of the 
mob violence of the latter part of the century : 

" A few days since, three men were, by William Ad- 
dington, Esq., committed to Newgate on a charge against 
them on oath, for riotously and tumultuously assembling 
together to the disturbance of the public peace, and for 
demolishing and pulling down four dwelling-houses, situate 
in St. Anne's-lane, Westminster, belonging to the gover- 
nors of the Grey-coat School." Old British Spy, January 
4, 1783. 

" Convicted at the Old Bailey, on Monday, Thomas 


Biggett, for having feloniously and riotously assembled, 
with divers other persons, at the dwelling-house of Luke 
Case, in Golden-lane, and begun to demolish and pull 
down the said dwelling-house." British Gazette, Septem- 
ber 28, 1794. 

The outrages perpetrated by the mob during the Sa- 
cheverel, or " High Church " riots, and demolition of 
meeting-houses, in 1710, and in the memorable "Riots 
of '80" the burning of Newgate and destruction of 
the gaols, the pulling down of Roman Catholic places of 
worship, and the other enormities of the mad mob that 
followed mad Lord George Gordon, and who frightened 
poor Kennet, the Lord Mayor of London at the time, 
into a state of perfect helplessness, are fully recorded in 
history ; but the savage proceedings of a club, which took 
its name from a savage nation as illustrative of its prac- 
tices, have not been so elaborately reported. We allude 
to the Society of Mohocks, established in London for the 
benevolent purpose of terrifying and ill-using the unpro- 
tected passengers in the streets at night one of the most 
extraordinary combinations that ever set law at defiance, 
startled society in its securest resting-places, and disgraced 
the character of civilised and reasoning beings, to which 
its members pretended. Senseless in its purpose, and des- 
titute of feeling, fear, or shame, in the execution of that 
purpose, this club of fiends, kept the metropolis in a state 
of constant alarm by its atrocities, and astonishment at its 
audacity, and almost leaves us in doubt whether it can 
belong to history, or is not the offspring of some wild ro- 
mance. However, to the shame of human nature, it was 
no unsubstantial terror that Gay alludes to in the follow- 
ing lines : 


Who has not trembled at the Mohocks' name ? 
Was there a watchman took his hourly rounds 
Safe from their blows, or new-invented wounds ? 

Worthy Sir Roger de Coverley, on going to the play- 
house, was so apprehensive of an attack from the Mo- 
hocks, that we find him guarded by Captain Sentry and 
a whole posse of his own servants, the former armed with 
the very sword with which he fought at the battle of 
Steinkirk, and the latter with stout oaken flails and staves. 

The account which the a Spectator" gives of their rules 
and practices is certainly somewhat appalling, and justifies 
all these preparations for defence on the part of his friend 
Sir Roger, before he sallied out by night: "An out- 
rageous ambition of doing all possible hurt to their fellow- 
creatures is the great cement of their assembly, and the 
only qualification required in the members. In order to 
exert this principle in its full strength and perfection, they 
take care to drink themselves to a pitch that is beyond 
the possibility of attending to any motions of reason or 
humanity, then make a general sally, and attack all that 
are so unfortunate as to walk the streets through which 
th,ey patrol. Some are knocked down, others stabbed, 
others cut and carbonadoed." 

We might be inclined to speak lightly of this society of 
rabid " young men about town," did not the publications 
of the time treat the matter so gravely as to force upon us 
a conviction of the demon-like nature of their midnight 
orgies. The Mohocks, taking their name from a nation 
of Red Indians, almost rivalled them in the barbarities 
they practised. The president of the club was named 
" Emperor of the Mohocks," and the club itself divided 
into several classes, each of which took its particular de- 


partment. One party would sally forth for the purpose of 
"Tipping the Lion," or violently flattening the noses of 
passengers who fell in their way, and gouging out their 
eyes ; another tribe would give pursuit to some trembling 
passer-by with frantic shouts of " A sweat ! a sweat !" and 
on overtaking him, they would form round their prey, 
and, with the dance of a set of imps, prick him with their 
swords till they had exhausted him. Then there were the 
" Tumblers," who devoted themselves especially to the 
diversion of turning females upon their heads; and the 
" Dancing Masters," who took their name from their skill 
in keeping their victim in constant motion by running 
their swords into his legs. One tribe delighted in thrust- 
ing females into barrels, and then setting them rolling 
down hill; another derived its chief sport from beating 
and ill-using the watchmen. In fact, they were the 
scourge and terror of the city, and that they might not 
be inclined to stop at any atrocity, they made a point of 
drinking till they were in a state of perfect frenzy, before 
they sallied forth. 

They fairly frightened Swift out of his evening walks, 
and appear to have been a perfect nightmare in his 
thoughts. He sends all sorts of stories about them to 
Stella, such as 

"March 8th, 1711-12. Did I tell you of a race of 
rakes called the Mohocks? that play the devil about this 
town every night, slit people's noses, and bid them," &c. 

" 9th. Young Davenant was telling us at court how 
he was set upon by the Mohocks, and how they ran his 
chair through with a sword. It is not safe being in the 
streets at night for them. The Bishop of Salisbury's son 
is said to be of the gang. They are all Whigs, and a 


great lady sent to me to speak to her father and to Lord 
Treasurer to have a care of them, and to be careful like- 
wise of myself, for she heard they had malicious intentions 
against the ministers and their friends. I know not whe- 
ther there may be anything in this, though others are of 
the same opinion." 

" 12th. I walked in the park this evening, and came 
home early to avoid the Mohocks. My man tells me, that 
one of the lodgers heard in a coffee-house, publicly, that 
one design of the Mohocks was upon me, if they could 
catch me ; and, though I believe nothing of it, I forbear 
walking late, and they have put me to the charge of some 
shillings already. I came home in a chair for fear of the 
Mohocks from Lord Treasurer's, and have given him 
warning of it too." 

" 15th. I came home afoot, but had my man with 
me. Lord Treasurer 'advised me not to go in a chair, be- 
cause the Mohocks insult chairs more than they do those 
on foot. They think there is some mischievous design in 
these villains. Several of them, Lord Treasurer told me, 
are actually taken up. I heard at dinner that one of them 
was killed last night. We shall know more in a little 
time. I do not like them as to men." 

" 16$. Lord Winchelsea told me to-day at court that 
two of the Mohocks caught a maid of old Lady Winchel- 
sea's at the door of their house in the park, with a candle, 
and had just lighted out somebody. They cut all her face, 
and beat her without any provocation. I hear my friend 
Lewis has got a Mohock in one of the messengers' hands." 

" ISth. There is a proclamation out against the Mo- 
hocks ; one of those that are taken is a baronet. I met 
Prior, who made me go home with him, where I stayed 


till twelve, and could not get a coach, and was alone; and 
was afraid enough of the Mohocks. I will do so no more, 
though I got home safe." 

" 19$. We stayed till past one (at Lord Masham's), 
but I had my man to come with me." 

26th. Our Mohocks go on still, and cut people's 
faces every night, but they shan't cut mine. I like it 
better as it is. The dogs will cost me at least a crown a 
week in chairs," &c., &c. 

Here then is the town talk of three weeks about the Mo- 
hocks, but we never heard Swift's statement, that they 
were attached to any political party, confirmed. We at- 
tribute it to his prejudices against the Whigs, and his 
desire, which often peeps out in his Journal, of impressing 
upon Stella that he was a mark of note among his party, 
which the Whigs always had their eyes upon. 

In 1720, the young "bucks" and rakes had changed 
their sport, and, in the same depraved taste, had conceived 
a new order of clubs, called " The Hellfires." These in- 
famous assemblages were held at various taverns, and fre- 
quented by the most dissipated of the higher classes, who, 
first maddening themselves with ardent spirits, took plea- 
sure in uttering every kind of horrible blasphemy. The 
Trinity was a favourite subject for their profane jests; and 
in obscene derision they would shock the feelings of some 
quiet company by entering a tavern and calling for a 
" Holy Ghost Pie," or proposing a toast that made the 
blood run cold. Women were often among their number, 
and at their meetings assumed the character of the 
" Mother of Christ," and gave utterance to all kinds of 
horrible ribaldry and lewd jests. The horror which the 
reports of these revels caused in the public mind induced 
the government to issue a proclamation, enjoining their 


immediate and entire suppression, which appeared on the 
28th of April, 1721. 

But the " choice spirits " of the age were not to be re- 
strained by law or public opinion, for, from Dr. Johnson's 
" London," we may infer that the old Mohock spirit was 
among them as late as 1735: 

Prepare for death, if here at night you roam, 
And sign your will before you sup from home, 
Some fiery fop, with new commission vain, 
Who sleeps on brambles till he kills his man 
Some frolic drunkard reeling from a feast, 
Provofces a broil, and stabs you for a jest. 
Yet even these heroes, mischievously gay, 
Lords of the street, and terrors of the way, 
Flush'd as they are with folly, youth, and wine, 
Their prudent insults to the poor confine ; 
Afar they mark the flambeaux' bright approach, 
And shun the shining train and gilded coach. 

Ho ! ho ! even in your lawlessness, Messieurs Mohocks, 
you feared the rich and trampled on the poor ! If there 
could have been a redeeming point in your conduct, it 
would have been that you paid no respect to persons, but 
treated all alike ! 

The " Nickers " were another class of " gentlemen " 
street offenders. Their sport was more harmless, and 
smacks somewhat of more modern tastes, for Gay tells us : 

His scattered pence the flying Nicker flings, 
And with the copper-shower the casement rings. 

If these worthies had broken the windows with golden 
guineas instead of copper pence, it would have been more 
generous. Many an honest Git would then rather have 
heard the Nicker at his window than the knocker at his 

In the chapter on " Travelling," we have said that we 
hear of few river pirates, but we have just alighted upon 


a paragraph in the Craftsman of May the 12th, 1787, 
which proves that they not only existed, but were rather 
formidable characters, although their designs seem mostly 
to have been against the property lying on, rather than 
the persons travelling by, the "silent highway " of the 

" Thursday night, between the hours of twelve and one 
o'clock, the Ca la is Packet, Captain Thomas Meriton, lying 
in the Thames, at Lady Parsons' Stairs, was boarded by 
eight men, armed with pistols and cutlasses, who, with 
horrid imprecations, went between decks to the mate, de- 
manded his money, asked for the captain (who happened 
not to be on board), robbed the vessel of goods to the 
amount of one hundred pounds, the custom-house officers 
stationed on board the same ship of all their moneys, and 
then got safely off with all their booty. Information being 
immediately given at the public office, East Smithfield, 
Messrs. Dawson, Mayne, and Whiteway went in pursuit, 
and apprehended, after a desperate resistance, eight noto- 
rious fresh-water pirates, and brought them before Robert 
Smith, Esquire, at the said office, who committed them to 
New Prison for further examination on Thursday next." 

And here are three other paragraphs, the last of them 
proving the determined character of these robbers : 

" Wednesday night, as three fresh-water pirates were 
attempting to board a merchant ship near Shadwell Dock, 
the mate, who had hid himself behind the mainmast, being 
armed with a large blunderbuss, let fly at them, killed one 
on the spot, and the other two are so much wounded that 
it is thought they cannot live. They were conveyed to 
the London Hospital." Craftsman, February 17, 1787. 

" Friday night, some fresh- water pirates boarded a 
merchant ship in the river, near Church Stairs, from 


which they carried off different articles to the value of 
near one hundred pounds." British Gazette, February 
19, 1792. 

" On Monday evening last, about half-past eleven 
o'clock, a gang of water pirates, well armed, attempted to 
rob the Red House at Battersea, kept by Mr. Diston. A 
neighbour was sitting in the parlour with Mrs. D. and 
another lady, and, upon hearing a noise in the taproom, 
he went out to know the cause, when he was seized by 
five villains masked, who threw him down and stabbed 
him several times in the breast near the heart. The lady, 
hearing the scuffle, opened the door, and seeing Mr. Gray 
wounded, she and Mrs. D. ran up-stairs, and, concealing 
themselves, they put out the lights. The robbers, having 
bound the servants, were proceeding to plunder, when 
they were alarmed by the approach of some neighbours, 
and took precipitately to their boat." British Gazette of 
same date. 

We have now gone through the catalogue of crime, 
from the murderer to the street-rake from the men who 
broke heads to the men who broke windows ; but we have 
only seen it at present out of doors let us visit it at 
home. ^ 

Hogarth has opened up to us the home of crime in his 
Night Cellar scene of " Industry and Idleness," and recent 
improvements in the City disclosed a haunt in which vice 
and crime had lurked secure for centuries. The print of 
Hogarth presents all the features of those dens of horror, 
the night cellars of thieves and murderers. The trap 
through which a corpse is being flung for concealment is 
part of the machinery of which so much was brought to 
light some years ago in the neighbourhood of Smithfield, 
in the demolition of a house which had served as the 


hiding-place of guilt to generations of highwaymen and 
assassins with its secret spouts for the conveyance of the 
stolen property from floor to floor or underground, in case 
of search ; its spring panels in the wainscoting ; its sub- 
terranean passages; its drawbridges across the Fleet ditch; 
its false floors and double ceilings. 

In these cellars the first lessons of vice were taught, and 
the last qualms of conscience laughed to scorn, and, in 
their foul and foetid air, the last feeling of virtue, compunc- 
tion, or repentance, sickened and was stifled; in these 
cellars robberies were planned, the plunder shared, gam- 
bled away, or secreted, and, if necessary, the mutilated 
victims hidden where the murderers took refuge. In 1747, 
one of these cellars in Chick-lane, Smithfield, was so noto- 
rious for almost daily murders, that it was called the 
"Blood Bowl House;" and although, while these fungi 
swarmed till lately about the root of London, they were 
seldom used for such bloody purposes as those of the pre^ 
vious century, yet they still, in the character of lodgings 
for the idle and the poor, were the nursing-places of vice, 
and the traps in which straying feet were caught. 

Such, then, were the cradles of crime in the last cen- 
tury. In the next chapter we shall view its graves, the 
cross-roads, the stake, and the prison-cell. 




MR. KNIGHT has called the London of the Eighteenth 
Century " the City of the Gallows," and it is scarcely a 
misnomer. Enter it at any point, and you would have 
to pass under a line of gibbets. Pass up the Thames, 
there were the gibbets along its banks, with the rotting 
remains of mutineers or persons who had committed mur- 
ders on the high seas, hanging from them in chains. Land 
at Execution Dock, and a gallows was being erected for 
the punishment of some offender of the same class. Enter 
from the west by Oxford-street, and there was the gallows- 
tree at Tyburn (the site of which is now, we believe, by the 
way, occupied by the house No. 45, Connaught-square). 
Cross any of the heaths, commons, or forests near London, 
and you would be startled by the creaking of the chains 
from which some gibbeted highwayman was dropping piece- 
meal. Nay, the gallows was set up before your own door 
in every part of the town. Thus, on August the 21st, 
1735, Macrae, James, Emerson, and Sellon, and, in 1758, 
one James White and his brother, were executed on Ken- 
nington-common; on March the 7th, 1733, Sarah Mal- 
colm, in Fleet-street; and on September the 14th, 1741, 
James Hall, at the end of Catherine-street, in the Strand; 


in 1760, Patrick McCarthy was hanged at the foot of 
Bow-street, in Covent-garden; in 1767, Williamson was 
hanged in Chiswell-street, Finsbury; Theodore Gardelle, 
for murdering his landlady, was hanged opposite the end 
of Panton-street, in the Haymarket; and another mur- 
derer in Old-street, St. Luke's. After the riots of '80, the 
gallows was carried about, and suspected parties hanged on 
the spots where (in many instances on perjured evidence) 
they were charged with having committed -acts of riot ; 
and, after the rebellion of 1745, the heads of the rebel 
lords were set up on Temple Bar, and a few enterprising 
men earned a mass of coppers for some weeks by letting 
out telescopes for the passengers to see the row of gory 
heads more clearly. 

If you came to the junction of four roads in the suburbs, 
you might be sure there was at least one murderer and 
suicide buried beneath your feet, with a stake through his 
body ; and turn into Hicks's Hall, and you would see a 
criminal's body being publicly dissected before a crowd of 

In short, the law-makers contrived, in the hopes of 
checking crime, to invest its punishment with as many 
appalling features as possible. In 1752, murders had be- 
come so frequent that an act was passed providing for the 
execution of every criminal one day after the passing of 
the sentence, and ordering his body to be handed over 
for dissection at the Barber- Surgeons' Hall, Old Bailey. 
And those who were entrusted with the administration of 
the law likewise strove to make it terrible. The very 
sentence of death was pronounced in as imposing a form 
as could be conceived " To be drawn on a hurdle to the 
place of execution, and there to be hanged by the neck 
until you be dead ! dead ! ! dead ! ! ! " 


But, notwithstanding all this, crime increased. In the 
mayoralty of Sir Francis Child, in 1732, five hundred 
and two persons were indicted at the Old Bailey, of whom 
seventy received sentence of death ; and from the " An- 
nual Register" of August the 24th, 1763, we learn, that 
" since the middle of July, near one hundred and fifty 
persons have been committed to New Prison and Clerken- 
well, for robberies and other capital offences." It must 
be remembered that the term^capital ojFences " embraced 
murder, highway robbery, burglary, forgery, returning 
from transportation before the expiration of the term to 
which sentenced, arson, incendiarism, horse and sheep- 
stealing, falsifying certificates of marriage, Mint, and a 
host of other offences. By the 9th George I., cap. 22, 
the wilful destruction of trees planted for ornament ; and 
by the 10th George II., cap. 32, the cutting a hop-bind 
in a hop garden, were made capital offences ! 

The following are the statistics of crime for the two 
years of 1786 and 1787: 

" 1786. Convicts executed in London, 44. Results of 
the Old Bailey sessions: Capitally convicted, 133; con- 
victed of felonies, 582; acquitted, 430. 

" 1787. Convicts executed in London, 101. Results 
of the Old Bailey sessions: Capitally convicted, 123; 
convicted of felonies, 506; acquitted, 430." 

The law, stepping, forth in all its majesty and terror, 
clothed in its sable garments, and exhibiting the red towel 
of the dissecting-room and the white coffin-cloths of the 
prison grave the law, holding the halter over guilty 
heads, and assuming all sorts of hideous guises as it came 
forward to vindicate outraged society, became at last an 
image so familiar as to be looked upon with contempt 
at all events, with indifference. To strangle a dozen cul- 


prits who had offended it, was only one morning's task 
nay, it has banished twenty culprits at once into the 
unknown worlds of eternity ! But here are two specimens 
of rather a lazy morning's work of vengeance : 

"Monday, 4th. Twelve malefactors were executed at 
Tyburn, viz., Denis Neale, John Mason, JomiWelsh, 
Robert Keys, Grace Grannett, and Joshua Kidden, for 
divers highway robberies ; John Smith and William Ford, 
for horse-stealing; Richard Hutton, for returning from 
transportation ; Daniel Wood, forsheep-stealing ; Thomas 
Barnard and William Jenks, for burglaries?' Gentleman 's 
Magazine for March, 1754. 

(( Yesterday morning, about nine o'clock, the following 
malefactors were brought out of Newgate, and carried to 
Tyburn in three carts, where they were executed according 
to their sentences, viz., Henry Berthand, for feloniously 
personating one Mark Groves, the proprietor of one hun- 
dred pounds three per cent, annuities, and transferring the 
same as if he was the real owner thereof; William Jones, 
alias Filch, alias Parker, for stealing in a warehouse in the 
Castle and Falcon, in Aldersgate-street, a deal box con- 
taining a quantity of haberdashery goods; Peter Verrier, 
accomplice with Charles Kelly, executed for burglary 
in the house of Mrs. Pollard, in Great Queen-street; 
William Odern,jpr robbing Elizabeth Burrell and Martha 
Crowten, in Spawfields ; Charles Woollett, for robbing 
Bernard John Cheale, on the highway, of a metal watch; 
John Graham, for feloniously altering the principal sum 
of a bank-note of fifteen pounds, so as to make the same 
appear to be a bank-note of fifty pounds, with intent to 
defraud Christopher Alderson ; Charlotte Goodall and John 
Edmonds, for stealing in the dwelling-house of Mrs. For- 
tesque, at Tottenham, where she lived as servant, a great 


quantity of plate, linen, &c. ; Thomas Cladenboul, for as- 
saulting Robert Chilton on the highway, and robbing him 
of a gold watch; John Weatherley and John Lafee, for 
feloniously and treasonably coining and counterfeiting the 
silver moneys of the realm called shillings and sixpences. 
They all behaved very penitent." London Evening Post, 
October 9, 1782. 

This list only contained eleven names it was quite a 
slack morning for Tyburn but it will be observed, that 
not one of these criminals would have been executed at 
the present time for such offences as they are charged 
with : which weighed with us in selecting the above two 
extracts, and quoting them in extenso. We may also note 
the incidental mention made of another curiosity by the way, 
in the second of them, of a " fifteen-pounds bank-note." 

These Tyburn processions must have been tolerably 
frequent in the streets, yet they were viewed with indif- 
ference, and the awful cavalcade passed on without elicit- 
ing a second thought from the spectators. Strange sights 
they were, too; two or three carts moving slowly along, 
containing the criminals, manacled and seated upon their 
own coffins, while the chaplain was solemnly exhorting 
them to repentance, surrounded by the sheriffs' officials, 
and constables, and even a military guard (for it was not 
until January, 1765, that Stephen Theodore Jansen, one 
of the sheriffs, ventured to conduct an execution without 
the protection of a military force), some of the criminals 
perhaps wearing the white cockade as an emblem of their 

At St. Sepulchre's church, it was an old custom for the 
culprits to be presented by their paramours or friends with 
bouquets, which they stuck boastfully in their breasts. 
John Rann, alias Sixteen- String Jack, in 1774, was the 



last who wore one of these nosegays in his button-hole. 
The cavalcade was next stopped in Holborn, to allow the 
convict to have a cup of ale, or, it is fair to presume, 
of stronger liquors, for instances are constantly occurring 
of the wretched beings reeling into eternity in a state of 
wild intoxication. Here is one of many : 

" July 6th. Were executed at Tyburn, Elizabeth 
Banks, for stripping a child ; Catharine Conway, for 
forging a seaman's ticket; and Margaret Harvey, for 
robbing her master. They were all drunk, contrary to 
an express order of the Court of Aldermen against serving 
them with strong liquors." 

The hurdle was used also for dragging the condemned 
to the place of execution ; but here is another and more 
primitive march of justice in bringing an offender up to 

" May 13th, Tuesday. The notorious Samuel Gregory, 
who robbed Farmer Lawrence, and had committed several 
robberies on the highway, was brought by a habeas 
corpus to Newgate from Winchester Gaol, being hand- 
cuffed, and chained under a horse's belly, with seven or 
eight persons well armed to guard him." London Maga- 
zine for May, 1735. 

In like state, Burnworth's three accomplices were car- 
ried from Newgate for trial at Kingston : 

" On the approach of the ensuing assizes for the county 
of Surrey, they were handcuffed, put into a waggon, and, 
in this manner, a party of dragoons conducted them to 

These fellows had been arrested in Holland, and, " on 
the arrival of the vessel which brought them, they were 
put into another boat opposite the Tower, which was 
guarded by three other boats, in each of which was a 
corporal and several soldiers. In this manner they were 


conducted to Westminster, where they were examined by 
two magistrates, who committed them to Newgate, to 
which they were escorted by a party of the foot guards." 

But to return to the Tyburn scene. The execution was 
not always a mere tame affair of hanging a dozen or two 
of penitent sinners ; t occasionally a little performance would 
be got up on the very scaffold, such as we find described 
in the London Magazine of July, 1735: 

" Monday, 21st. Five of the condemned malefactors 
were executed at Tyburn, viz., Kiffe and Wilson, for 
footpadding, in the first cart ; MacDonald and Martin, 
alias ' Pup's Nose,' for horse-stealing, in the second cart ; 
and Morperth, for footpadding, in a coach. The two in 
the second cart behaved very audaciously, calling out to 
the populace, and laughing aloud several times, though it 
cannot be now said they were in liquor, the orders of the 
lord mayor and aldermen having been strictly observed 
by the keepers." 

And again, in the same magazine of September, 1735: 

"Monday, 22nd. Ten malefactors were executed at 
Tyburn, namely, William Lewis, Patrick Gaffney, Ed- 
ward Togwell, Peter Matthews, Isaac Dennis, and William 
Phillips, alias Clark. They all behaved decently, and 
with seeming penitence, except Lewis and Hooper, who 
tossed up their shoes among the populace as soon as they 
got into the cart, and used several idle expressions." 

Sometimes the spectators themselves were the actors, as 
in the case of Mrs. Brownrigg, when the mob called out 
to the ordinary to " pray for her damnation, as such a 
fiend ought not to be saved;" and of Williamson, who 
was hanged in Moorfields for starving his wife to death, 
and who " seemed apprehensive of being torn to pieces, 
and hastened the executioner to perform his office." 



But, when their appetite for horrors was disappointed, 
they were positively furious. Here is an instance, from 
the London Magazine of September, 1735: 

A mariner had been condemned at Bristol for the mur- 
der of his wife, but on the night preceding the execution 
he found means to poison himself in his cell, whereupon 
" the people about Bristol," says the chronicler, " were so 
incensed at his hardened wickedness, that they dug up his 
body after it had been buried in a cross-road near that 
city, dragged his viscera about the highway, picked his 
eyes out, and broke almost all his bones ; after which it was 
taken and buried in a very deep grave near the gallows." 

The tiger had scented the blood, but was cheated out 
of a taste of it ! 

The scene of a Tyburn execution is well portrayed in 
Hogarth's " Industry and Idleness;" and there are some 
features in it peculiar to the time, such as the guards at- 
tending the procession the chaplain or ordinary seated 
in the cart and the coffin placed across it. The crimi- 
nals were also brought in the same manner from Newgate 
to Execution Dock, when the peculiar nature of their 
crime piracy, or offences on the high seas made that 
the place of execution ; and both these places were regu- 
larly attended by a class which now would turn with hor- 
ror from such a sight, or would even, to avoid it, go out 
of their way if it lay upon their road men in indepen- 
dent circumstances, who, having nothing better to employ 
their time, were stirring early on execution mornings, and 
would sooner have lost their night's rest than missed see- 
ing the criminals turned off! And, if there were no more 
than six or seven of them, would come, grumbling and 
disappointed, home to breakfast, complaining that " there 
were hardly any fellows hanged this morning." 

The hangings at Execution Dock were conducted in a 


peculiar form. The criminal was carried in a hired town- 
car from Newgate, and came rattling along over the stones, 
in company with the ordinary, the coffin, and a silver oar 
as an emblem of authority. The scaffold was placed so 
that the criminal's feet would reach to about high-water 
mark, and the body being suspended when the tide was 
down, was allowed to hang till the river rose and washed 
the feet of the corpse. It was then cut down and removed 
to the gibbets along the banks of the Thames, as repre- 
sented in Hogarth's " Idle 'Prentice sent to Sea," and on 
them hung in chains. 

" March 14th. Williams, the pirate, was hanged at 
Execution Dock, and afterwards in chains at Bugsby's 
Hole, near Blackwall." Gentleman's Magazine of 1735. 

But there were other horrors besides hangings to be 
witnessed by the regular frequenters of executions. Wo- 
men who were found guilty of petit treason, or mur- 
dering their husbands, were then sentenced to be burnt 
alive, although it was understood they were first strangled, 
thus affording a variation of spectacle now and then, that 
drew greater crowds together than when even some 
twenty malefactors were seen hanging upon one scaffold 
in a row. The following paragraphs will show in what 
a laconic style these horrible legal brutalities were related. 
A fearful sign of the times familiarity had indeed bred 
indifference ! 

" At the assizes at Northampton, Mary Fasson was con- 
demned to be burnt for poisoning her husband; and 
Elizabeth Wilson to be hanged for picking a farmer's 
pocket of thirty shillings." " Among the persons capi- 
tally convicted at the assizes at Chelmsford, are Herbert 
Hayns, one of Gregory's gang, who is to be hung in 
chains ; and a woman, for poisoning her husband, to be 
burnt." From the London Magazine for July, 1735. 


And thus are the executions of these wretched women 
reported in the next number : 

" Margaret Onion was burnt at a stake at Chelmsford 
for poisoning her husband. She was a poor, ignorant 
creature, and confessed the fact." "Mrs. Fawson was 
burnt at Northampton for poisoning her husband. Her 
behaviour in prison was with the utmost signs of contri- 
tion. She would not, to gratify people's curiosity, be un- 
veiled to any. She confessed the justice of her sentence, 
and died with great composure of mind." London 
Magazine, August, 1735. 

" On Saturday, two prisoners were capitally convicted 
at the Old Bailey for high treason, namely, Isabella Con- 
don, for coining shillings in Colbath-fields, and John 
Field, for coining shillings in Nag's Head-yard, Bishops- 
gate-street. They will receive sentence to be drawn on a 
hurdle to the place of execution, the woman to be burnt, 
and the man to be hanged." Harrison's Derby and 
Nottingham Journal, or Midland Advertiser, September 
23, 1779. 

Among the latest cases of this kind are those of Su- 
sannah Lott, burnt at Canterbury in 1769, for the murder 
of her husband; the above case in 1779; a woman at 
Exeter, July the 29th, 1782, for poisoning her master; 
Phosbe Harris, in June, 1786, for counterfeiting shillings; 
and Christian Murphy, at the Debtors' Door, Newgate, 
March the 18th, 1789, for coining. 

Blackstone gives the following reason for this fearful 
punishment being applied to women in cases of high or 
petit treason, from which it would seem to have been 
adopted in deference to the delicacy of public feeling ( !) : 

" For as the decency due to the sex forbids the expos- 
ing and publicly mangling their bodies, their sentence 
(which is to the full as terrible to sensation as the other) 


is, to be drawn to the gallows, and there to be burnt 
alive." But, he adds, " The humanity of the English 
nation has authorised, by a tacit consent, an almost general 
mitigation of such part of these judgments as savours of 
torture and cruelty, a sledge or hurdle being usually al- 
lowed to such traitors as are condemned to be drawn, and 
there being very few instances (and those accidental or by 
negligence) of any persons being embowelled or burnt till 
previously deprived of sensation by strangling." 

One of these " accidents " occurred at the execution of 
Katharine Hayes, at Tyburn, for the murder of her hus- 
band, November the 3rd, 1726. The fire scorching the 
hands of the executioner, he slackened the rope before he 
had strangled her, and, although fresh fagots were piled 
around her, it was some time before she died, in fearful 

This barbarous law was not repealed until the 30th 
George III., cap. 48 (1790). 

On glancing casually through a number of the London 
Magazine (in which, of course, the ivhole of the execu- 
tions and capital convictions may not have been reported), 
we may sum up three weeks' work thus : 

March 5th, 1735. A man and woman capitally con- 
victed at Aylesbury; and a man at Hertford, for return- 
ing from transportation. 

March 6th. A man condemned for horse-stealing at 

March 8th. Two men sentenced to death at Oxford, 
and six at Chelmsford. 

March IQth. Thirteen persons executed at Tyburn, of 
whom three were women. (Note. Another man " was 
to have been executed with them, but died in Newgate 
about three the same morning, and was ordered to be 
hanged in chains with the others.") 


March 12th. Two men condemned at Gloucester. 

March 14th. Eight men condemned at Rochester. 
Same day, " Thomas Williams, the pirate, was executed 
at Execution Dock, and afterwards hung in chains near 

March loth. One man and one woman condemned at 
York; and one man at Hereford, " for destroying a turn- 

March 1.8th. One man and one woman capitally con- 
victed at East Grinstead. 

March 20th. Four men and one woman condemned at 
Bury St. Edmunds; and one woman at Nottingham. 

March 26th. Eight men sentenced to death at King- 
ston, one of whom was convicted of " cutting a man's 
tongue out, and robbing him of six shillings." . 

This shows a total of forty-one persons sentenced to 
death at the assizes in the country, and fifteen hanged in 
London in all, fifty-six in three weeks ! 

Now let us see what offences so many persons were 
capitally convicted of at every assize. 

We will take another number of the same magazine at 
random. Of eleven so convicted at the Old Bailey on 
December the 15th, 1735, one is for housebreaking, one 
for horse-stealing, one " for stealing two pieces of sarcenet 
out of a shop " (now called by the mild term of " shop- 
lifting "), one for a street robbery, one " for robbing Mr. 
Bardin of 4s. 6d.," one " for stealing a guinea," and five 
for highway robbery; not one of which offences would 
now subject the perpetrator to the punishment of death. 

The hangman had in those days a much greater latitude 
allowed him : forgery, burglary, horse-stealing, shoplifting, 
all were "capital" offences; nay, the executions them- 
selves were pronounced " capital " sights by the taste of 
the age, and even the refined George Selwyn was disap- 


pointed if he were prevented from being present at Ty- 
burn in time for the morning's spectacle. 

The unhappy wretches, when the passing of the capital 
sentence had abandoned them to the tender mercies of 
the gaolers, were subjected to the indignity of being 
publicly exhibited in the press-room previously to their 
execution, thus distracting their attention from the 
thoughts which the ordinary was endeavouring to instil 
into their minds. The Public Ledger of the morning after 
the execution of the celebrated Doctor Dodd, for forgery, 
states that " the turnkeys levied a fee of a shilling a head 
for admittance into the press-room, and the exhibition 
lasting two hours, they gained a considerable emolument 
from it." And Horace Walpole tells Sir Horace Mann 
that on the Sunday after the condemnation of Mac Lean, 
the highwayman, three thousand persons visited him in 
his cell. 

But they were not even done with when life was 
gone. Their heads were severed from their bodies, their 
intestines torn out and burnt, and their bodies quartered, 
if convicted of high treason; and, although the judgment 
is still the same in such cases, it has not been of late years 
carried into execution with all the horrors which attended 
the death of Mr. De la Motte, convicted of high treason 
in carrying on a secret correspondence with the enemy, 
and who, on July the 27th, 1781, suffered at Tyburn the 
punishment expressed in the judgment of the court " with 
great fortitude " " That he should be drawn to the place 
of execution on a hurdle, and there be hanged by the 
neck, but not until he was dead; that his bowels should 
be taken out and burned before his face; that his head 
should then be severed from his body, and his body di- 
vided into four parts, to be at his majesty's disposal." 
This appalling spectacle was performed where Connaught- 


square now stands, without any abatement of its most re- 
volting features, only seventy years ago ! 

In cases of murder, the bodies were given up for dis- 
section, as we have before stated, originally at Barber- 
Surgeons' Hall, but afterwards at Hicks's Hall (except 
when the condemned murderer committed suicide in his 
cell, when his body was at once buried in a " four-want 
way," or at the meeting of four roads, with a stake driven 
through it), and there are some still living whose curiosity 
drew them to Hicks's Hall to see the public dissection of 
criminals, and whom the horrid scene, with the additional 
effect of the skeletons of some noted criminals hanging on 
the walls, drove out again, sick and faint, as we have heard 
some of them relate, and with pale and terrified features, 
" to get a breath of air." Hogarth has depicted one of 
these dissection scenes in " The Four Stages of Cruelty " 
(" The Reward of Cruelty ") with all its attendant horrors. 

In aggravated cases the bodies were hung in chains on 
public spots generally as contiguous as convenient to the 
scene of their crime, and that they were numerous we 
may infer from the following passage in the u Annual 
Register" of 1763: "All the gibbets in the Edgeware- 
road, on which many malefactors were hung in chains, 
were cut down by persons unknown." Verily this road, 
with its many gibbets, must have formed a picturesque 
avenue through which to enter London, pregnant with 
sad forebodings of rapine and midnight murder ! 

The manner in which the burning of women for petit 
treason was effected at a period near the close of the 
century, is fully described in the Chelmsford Chronicle of 
June the 23rd, 1786, and then savoured more of a means 
of insulting their remains. After detailing the execution 
of six men for various offences, the report proceeds: 

a About a quarter of an hour after the platform had 


dropped, the female convicted " (Phcebe Harris, convicted 
of counterfeiting the coin called shillings) " was led by 
two officers of justice from Newgate to a stake fixed in 
the ground about the midway between the scaffold and 
the pump. The stake was about eleven feet high, and, 
near the top of it was inserted a curved piece of iron, to 
which the end of the halter was tied. The prisoner stood 
on a low stool, which, after the ordinary had prayed with 
her a short time, being taken away, she was suspended 
by the neck (her feet being scarcely more than twelve or 
fourteen inches from the pavement). Soon after the 
signs of life had ceased, two cart-loads of fagots were 
placed round her and set on fire; the flames presently 
burning the halter, the convict fell a few inches, and was 
then sustained by an iron chain passed over her chest and 
affixed to the stake. Some scattered remains of the body 
were perceptible in the fire at half-past ten o'clock. The 
fire had not completely burnt out at twelve o'clock." 

And this was Blackstone's " humanity of the English 
nation," and " decency due to the sex ! " Nor was more 
regard paid to the age of the criminal, for, in May, 1777, 
a child not fourteen years of age was sentenced to be 
burnt for having in her possession some farthings white- 
washed to make them resemble shillings, which she had 
secreted in her stays at the instigation of her master, who 
was hanged a few days previously. The sentence would 
most assuredly have been carried into effect had not the 
attention of Lord Weymouth been accidentally attracted 
to it, and at his urgent intercession the child was re- 

Still greater barbarity was practised in the application 
of torture to untried prisoners, under the old law of 
"Peine forte et dure" better known as "pressing to 
death," in the hope of squeezing out, with the agonised 


screams of the sufferer, a plea of " Guilty," or " Not 
Guilty." This dreadful torture or punishment of contu- 
macy, in whichever light it may be considered, is thus 
described in Chamberlayne's "Present State of Great 

" The criminal " (refusing to plead to a charge of petit 
treason, felony, or any capital crime) " to be sent back to 
the prison from whence he came, and there laid in some 
dark room upon the bare ground on his back, all naked, 
his arms and legs drawn with cords fastened to the several 
quarters of the room ; and then shall be laid upon his body 
iron and stone, so much as he can bear, or more ; the next 
day he shall have three morsels of barley bread, without 
drink, and the third day he shall have drink of the water 
next to the prison-door, except it be running water, 
without bread ; and this shall be his diet till he die. 
Which grievous kind of death some stout 'fellows have 
sometimes chosen, and so, not being tried and convicted 
of their crimes, their estates may not be forfeited to 
the king, but descend to their children, nor their blood 

So writes John Chamberlayne ; but, in the edition of 
his book published in 1 741, the editor adds : "But though 
the law continues, yet we so abhor cruelty" (here the 
" humanity " of the Eighteenth Century is again vaunted !), 
"that of late they are suffered to be overcharged with 
weight laid upon them, that they expire presently." 

In other words, refusing to plead to a charge was, in 
1741, a capital offence, and the punishment pressing to 
death! Nor was it abolished until 1771 (12 Geo. III., 
cap. 20). 

Instances of this torture being applied were perhaps 
rare, but they were not unknown. In 1721, one Na- 
thaniel Hawes bore the pressure of two hundred and fifty 


pounds weight in the press-yard of the Old Bailey before 
he could be brought to plead ; and here are three more 
cases which we have met with: in the first, the threat 
was sufficient : 

" One How was indicted for a street robbery, but re- 
fused to plead to the indictment, whereupon the court 
told him the fatal consequence of such refusal, namely, 
that he must be miserably pressed to death, and indulged 
him with time to consider of it till this morning. When 
again brought up he pleaded guilty, and was condemned 
to death." Whitehall Evening Post, August 29, 1728. 

" September 5t/t, 1741. On Tuesday was sentenced to 
death, at the Old Bailey, Henry Cook, the shoemaker of 
Stratford, for robbing Mr. Zachary on the highway. On 
Cook's refusing to plead, there was a new press made and 
fixed in the proper place in the press-yard, there having 
been no person pressed since the famous Spiggott, the 
highwayman, about twenty years ago. Burnworth, alias 
Frazier, was pressed at Kingston, in Surrey, about sixteen 
years ago." Universal Spectator, No. 674. 

The next was more obdurate : 

" At the assizes at Lewes, in Sussex, a man who pre- 
tended to be dumb and lame was indicted for a barbarous 
murder and robbery. He had been taken up on sus- 
picion, several spots of blood and part of the goods being 
found upon him. When he was brought to the bar he 
would not speak or plead, though often urged to it, and 
the sentence to be inflicted on such as stand mute read to 
him. Four or five persons in the court swore they had 
heard him speak, and the boy who was his accomplice 
and apprehended, was there to be a witness against him; 
yet he continued mute. Whereupon he was carried back 
to Horsham Gaol, to be pressed to death if he would not 
plead. They laid on him, first, a hundred- weight, then 


added a hundred- weight more, and he still continued ob- 
stinate. They then added a hundred-weight more, and 
then made it three hundred and fifty pounds; yet he 
would not speak. Then, adding fifty pounds more, he 
was just dead, having all the agonies of death upon him ; 
then the executioner, who weighs about sixteen or seven- 
teen stone, lay down upon the board which was over him, 
and, adding to the weight, killed him in an instant." 
London Magazine, August 21, 1735. 

Now is it not quite possible that this poor man was 
really dumb ? Is it not also possible that, not having 
been tried, he might have been innocent ? And yet this 
cruel scene is thus tamely and in this matter-of-course way 
related, without a single comment on the barbarity, or one 
suggestion for the repeal of this savage law ! 

Another mode of torture for the purpose of extorting 
a plea from the party indicted was the tying of the thumbs 
with whipcord, so tightly, that, the cord cutting into the 
flesh, gave excruciating pain, in which the party arraigned 
was kept until he pleaded. The last instance in which it 
was resorted to at the Old Bailey was in 1 734, but it was 
practised at Cambridge Assizes in 1742. In April, 1721, 
Mary Andrews was thus tortured at ' the Old Bailey, but 
was so resolute, that three cords were broken before the 
plea was extorted from her. 

Domestic bondage was another punishment which seems 
to have been becoming obsolete : we have only met with 
one case of it, and that was in Scotland, and as early as 
December the 5th, 1701, when one Alexander Stewart, 
found guilty of theft, " was gifted by the justice as a per- 
petual servant to Mr. John Areskine, of Alva." 

Negro Slavery was, however, still extant, and it was no 
crime to buy and sell a black slave : 

" A black boy, twelve years of age, fit to wait on a 


gentleman, to be disposed of at Denis's Coffee-house in 
Finch-lane, near the Royal Exchange." Tatler, 1709. 

" To be sold, a negro boy, aged eleven years. Enquire 
of the Virginia Coffee-house in Threadneedle-street, be- 
hind the Royal Exchange." Daily Journal, September 
28, 1728. 

" FOR SALE. A healthy negro girl, aged about 
fifteen years; speaks good English, works at her needle, 
washes well, does household work, and has had the small- 
pox." Public Ledger, December 31, 1761. 

" A neat beautiful black negro girl, just brought from 
Carolina, age eleven or twelve years, who understands and 
speaks English. Very fit to wait on a lady. To be dis- 
posed of. Application to be made to James Carolan, 
Carrickmacross ; or to Mr. Gavan, in Bridge-street, Dub- 
lin." Dublin Mercury, No. 283, August 16, 1768. 

In 1772 such sales became illegal. 

We have yet another act of vengeance, which is only 
upon record as being in force we have no instances of its 
being carried into effect during the century. This was 
" civil death," incurred by petty jurors giving corrupt 
verdicts, or conspiring to convict an innocent party of 
felony. " They are," says the " Present State of Great 
Britain" (edition 1741), "to lose the franchise or freedom 
of the law that is, to become infamous, of no credit, 
incapable of being witnesses or of a jury; their houses, 
lands, and goods are seized into the king's hands; their 
houses pulled down; their meadows ploughed up, their 
trees rooted up, and all their lands laid waste, and their 
bodies imprisoned. But, indeed," adds the editor, " there 
are no late instances of such punishment." 




OUR grandsires seem to have considered that the greater 
horror they could excite by the severity of their punish- 
ments, the greater check it would be to crime they 
never dreamed that they might convert public resentment 
into commiseration, and indignation at the culprit's crimes 
into pity for his sufferings. Thus perjury, cheating, libel- 
ling, retailing with false weights and measures, forestalling 
the market, offences in baking and brewing, as adultera- 
tions, Sec., and forging title deeds, were punishable with 
the pillory a sort of cage having a hole in which the 
necK was locked, and wherein the offenders were publicly 
exposed in the most frequented thoroughfares; and the 
wretch who would in this position have excited nothing 
but contempt or disgust, was made a martyr or a hero by 
having his ears nailed to the pillory and cut off, being 
whipped afterwards through the public thoroughfares, 
having his tongue bored with a red-hot iron, or his nose 
slit, or being branded with the initial letter of the offence 
for which he suffered as " S. L.," for seditious libeller, 
on either cheek; " M.," for manslaughter, or "T.," for 
thief, on the left hand ; " R.," for rogue and vagabond, on 
the shoulder; and " P.," for perjury, on the forehead; and, 


as the papers always described how he bore the punish- 
ment " with great fortitude," the coldest said, in pity, 
"Poor fellow!" whilst the enthusiastic, forgetting his 
crime in his sufferings, exclaimed in admiration, " Brave 

Boring the tongue was, as late as the reign of Queen 
Anne, a military punishment for an officer guilty of blas- 
phemy, and, according to Grose, was the only corporal 
punishment an officer could suffer. The branding in the 
hand was generally inflicted in open court, and imme- 
diately after the judge had passed sentence. "In many 
of the old courts may still be seen the iron staple, large 
enough for the fingers, and the half-handcuff on a hinge, 
to hold down the wrist, in which the culprit's hand was 
placed, and burnt with a small brand-iron on the brawn 
of the left thumb." (1837.) But the branding on the 
cheeks or the forehead was performed by the executioner 
on the pillory. 

The pillory was set up on such spots as Charing Cross, 
Cheapside, St. Paul's Churchyard (facing Ludgate-hill), 
Cornhill (by the Royal Exchange), the Poultry, and 
Aldgate. In the Poultry, Daniel De Foe was pilloried 
for publishing a libel in his " Shortest Way with the 
Dissenters," which gave occasion for Pope's ungenerous 

Earless on high stood unabashed De Foe. 

And Curll and Mist, the booksellers, were also similarly 
punished for libels. And in this exalted position atrocious 
offenders were assailed by the mob with such gentle 
missiles as brickbats, stones, mud, dead rats or cats, rotten 
eggs, bad oranges, &c., as well as the foulest language, 
' u 


and with such violence that several died under the attack. 
But very different was the case with those who were 
supposed to be suffering for conscience' sake; they were 
loudly cheered, and the officers of justice roughly used; 
and the " martyrs " converted the pillory into a desk from 
which to harangue the multitude or distribute tracts 
and pamphlets, and descended from it as from a car of 
triumph, working themselves into a frenzy of fanatical 
enthusiasm that soon produced a goodly crop of written 
violence, and spread as a contagion among those who 
witnessed them. 

Such was, in these cases, the effect of the pillory. The 
process of the punishment may be judged from the follow- 
ing extract : 

" Thursday, Japhet Cook, alias Sir Peter Stringer, 
who was some time since convicted of forging deeds of 
conveyance of two thousand acres of land belonging to 
Mr. Garbett and his wife, lying in the parish of Claxton,* 
in the county of Essex, was brought by the keeper of the 
King's Bench to Charing Cross, where he stood in the 
pillory from twelve to one, pursuant to his sentence. The 
time being near expired, he was set on a chair on the 
pillory, when the hangman, dressed like a butcher, came to 
him, and, with a knife like a gardener's pruning-knife, cut 
off his ears, and with a pair of scissors slit both his nostrils ; 
all which Cook bore with great patience, but, at the sear- 
ing with a hot iron of his right nostril, the pain was so 
violent that he got up from his chair; his left nostril was 
not seared, so he went from the pillory bleeding." Focfs 
Weekly Journal, June 12, 1731. 

* This may be a mistake. We cannot, trace any parish of this name in 
Essex. Clacton must be meant. 


Here is a pillory scene from the "Annual Register" 
of 1759 : 

" June, 25th. Samuel Scrimshaw and James Ross stood 
in the pillory for sending a threatening letter to extort a 
large sum of money from Humphery Morrice, Esquire, 
and were severely pelted by the populace ; but one of the 
sheriff's officers, having received an affront by being too 
near the pillory, drew his sword, and fell pell-mell among 
the thickest of the people, cutting his way indiscriminately 
through men, women, and children. This diverted the 
fury of the mob from the criminals to the officer, who, 
not being able to stand against such numbers, made good 
his retreat to an adjoining alley, where not above two or 
three could press upon him at a time, and so escaped." 

The sheriff's officer was not worse treated than any pas- 
senger might have been at the moment; the mob always 
had a passion for chasing and tormenting something they 
cared little for the crimes of the exposed culprits; any in- 
different spectator, standing idly by, was equal game, and, 
as he wiped the mud from his brocaded waistcoat or em- 
broidered coat, or picked up and carefully wiped his soiled 
laced hat, the roguish 'prentice was always ready with an 
excuse "'Twas a mistake, your honour a sheer acci- 
dent;" or perhaps the bespattered dandy got no apology, 
but a hearty horse-laugh. What says Gay ? 

When elevated o'er the gaping crowd, 
Clasp'd in the board, the perjur'd head is bowM, 
Betimes retreat ; here, thick as hailstones, pour 
Turnips and half-hatch'd eggs a mingled shower 
Among the rabble rain ; some random throw 
May, with the trickling yolk, thy cheek o'erflow. 

To stem and control the violence of the popular fury, 


large guards were required, as in the following case from 
the Craftsman of November the 25th, 1786: 

" Yesterday, at twelve o'clock, Mr. A , the attor- 
ney, was brought from Newgate in a hackney-coach, and 
put into the pillory, which was fixed in the middle of 
Palace-yard, opposite Westminster Hall gate, and stood 
for one hour. He was attended by the sheriffs, under- 
sheriffs, and two city marshals, and about six hundred con- 
stables, who kept everything quiet. It is supposed that 
upwards of four thousand people were assembled; but, 
owing to the sheriffs and other officers keeping a continual 
look-out, and riding on horseback about Palace-yard the 
whole time, not any disturbance happened. He was then 
put into a hackney-coach, and carried back to Newgate." 

Another description of pillory, now nearly gone out of 
use, was the parish stocks, in which drunken brawlers 
were locked by the heels, with a block to sit upon, till 
they came to a sober repentance. On the same spot, form- 
ing, in fact, part of the stocks, was usually set up in each 
parish generally in the market-place of a town, or the 
most public part of a village a post, to which rogues 
and vagabonds were chained by the wrists, and publicly 

' But the most general form of whipping was what was 
called " flogging at the cart's tail," when the criminal was 
tied to the back of a cart, slowly driven, and flogged 
through the town by the common executioner, attended 
by the crowds of idle vagabonds who are always found, 
hardening themselves for their own turn, at such degrad- 
ing and demoralising exhibitions. One Stroud, in 1751, 
was whipped through the streets several times, at monthly 
intervals, on a conviction for swindling. 


Nor was this passion for corporal punishment and whip- 
ping (which we regret to see of late years regaining 
favour) restrained by any considerations of sex, for we 
find, in the Westminster Journal of October the 29th, 1774, 
that, at the Old Bailey in London, on October the 24th, 
" Ann Leaver, convicted of grand larceny, was sentenced 
to be branded in the hand; and (October 25th) Catharine 
Clark, for petit larceny, to be privately whipped." 

In his^ " Coffee-House Politician/' Fielding alludes to 
this mode of punishing women, making Staff the Con- 
stable say to Old Politics'' daughter, "If you are not a 
woman of virtue, why you will be whipped for accusing a 
gentleman of robbing you of what you had not to lose " 
(Act I., Scene 1); and again, in his "Grub-street Opera:" 

Smaller misses for their kisses 
Are in Bridewell banged. 

In his " Covent Garden Tragedy" he twice mentions it 
Thus Mother Punchbowl asks Bilkum whether he would 

Follow the attractive cart, and see 
The hangman lift the virgal rod? 

And, afterwards, Gallows says to her, he would give a 
crown to some poor justice to commit her to Bridewell, 
" where I will come and see thee flogged myself." 

It seems, indeed, incredible that a law which was such 
a scandal to decency as well as humanity, should have 
been allowed to disgrace our statute-book so long; but it 
was not until July the 15th, 1820, that the 1st George 
IV., cap. 57, better known as "General Thornton's Act," 
put an end to the flogging of women, public or private. 

We are indebted to contributors to Notes and Queries 
for the two first of the following laconic entries : 


Extract from the Accounts of the Constables of Great Staughton, 
Huntingdonshire : 

17 ^LO Spent on Nurse London for searching the woman to see 
if she -was with child before she was whipped 3 of 

them 020 

P d - Tho. Hawkins for whipping two people y* had the 

small-pox 008 

17 ^ pa. for watching, victuals, and drink for Ma. Mitchell . 00 02 06 

P d - for whipping her 00 00 04 

171 f Pa- for whipping Goody Barry 00 00 04 

Extract from the Corporation Records of Worcester : 
1759 For whipping Eliz. Bradbury 2s. 6d. 

(The latter charge, it is suggested, included the hire of 
the cart, which was usually Is. 6d., one shilling being at 
this time the usual fee of the whipsman.) 

" On Wednesday the 14th, a woman, an old offender, 
was conveyed in a cart from Clerkenwell Bridewell to* 
Enfield, and publicly whipped at the cart's tail by the 
common hangman, for cutting down and destroying wood 
in Enfield Chase. She is to undergo the same discipline 
twice more." Public Ledger, 1764. 

Here are fine commentaries for Blackstone upon the 
" decency due to the sex;" and, in the first extract, upon 
the " humanity of the English nation," inasmuch as they 
employed a nurse to ascertain " whether the woman was 
with child, before she was whipped," putting the parish 
to an expense of two shillings for the sake of perfect de- 
cency and humanity ! 

But if all these barbarities of punishment were publicly 
known, how much will remain for ever hidden that was 
inflicted within the depths of the Fleet and Bridewell 
prisons ! The print of Hogarth, in the series of " The 
Harlot's Progress," shows us the interior of Bridewell at 
about the middle of the last century, and exposes the 
system which gave the power of inflicting severe punish- 


ments into the hands of ignorant, ill-regulated, and brutal 
taskmasters. The unhappy prisoners were completely at 
the mercy of the governors, warders, gaolers, and turnkeys 
(for even the magistrates would accept bribes from these 
petty tyrants, to stifle any investigation into their cruelties 
ancTextortions) , who abused their power most shamefully ; 
and, at their caprice, if their wretched captives were un- 
able or unwilling to perform the work allotted to them, 
they were punished at the whipping-post with little distinc- 
tion of age or sex, or suspended by the wrists in a pair of 
stocks, or clogged with a heavy block round their ankles. 
The labour exacted from them (beating hemp) was of a 
nature to fatigue and exhaust the frame and debilitate the 
constitution, the dust arising from it causing catarrhs, 
asthmas, and pulmonary diseases, blinding the eyes, and 
irritating the throat; yet, if they paused for breath, or to 
relieve their wearied arms, the taskmaster was at their 
elbow, with his implements of torture ready for them. 
In some cases the women were whipped only in the 
presence of one of the governors, to whose discretion it 
was left as to the number of lashes they were to receive. 
The punishment was inflicted on their naked backs, the 
governor giving the signal when the punishment was to 
cease, with a small hammer. From this circumstance 
arose the term of reproach to denote that a woman had 
beenTwhipped as a loose character, " Oh, pray, Sir Robert, 
knocK!" But even on the debtors confined in the Fleet 
prison the same cruelties were practised. What says 
Thomson ? 

The gloomy gaol, 

Unpitied and unheard where misery moans ; 
Where sickness pines where thirst and hunger burn, 
And poor misfortune feels the lash of vice. 
While, in the land of liberty the land 


Whose every street and public meeting glow 
With open freedom, little tyrants raged : 
Snatched the lean morsel from the starving mouth : 
Tore from cold wintry limbs the tatter'd weed : 
E'en robbed them of the last of comforts, sleep ; 
The free-born Briton, to the dungeon chain'd, 
Or, as the lust of cruelty prevailed, 
At pleasure marked him with inglorious stripes, 
And crushed out lives, by secret barbarous ways, 
That for their country would have toiled or bled. 

" Drag forth," he cries, 

Drag forth the legal monsters into light, 
Wrench from their hands oppression's iron rod, 
And bid the cruel feel the pain they give ! 

The " legal monsters " were dragged forth into light, 
but, unfortunately, they were never made to feel the pain 
they gave. A committee of the House of Commons was 
appointed in 1727 to inquire into the internal discipline of 
the Fleet; and a long catalogue of cruelty, extortion, and 
corruption, was revealed. The fees squeezed out of one 
prisoner alone, a Mr. Castell, an architect, before he was 
allowed to enter the prison, amounted to forty-five pounds 
one shilling, and, on his resisting a further extortion, he 
was arrested within the liberties of the prison, and would 
have had to go through the same process again, but that 
he caught the small-pox in the spunging-house, and died. 
Another victim examined, who fainted at the dread of 
returning to the Fleet, and ruptured a blood-vessel in his 
anguish, was a Portuguese, who had been chained in a 
loathsome dungeon for months. The instruments of tor- 
ture that were brought forward caused a thrill of horror 
in the committee-room, and, a searching investigation 
being excited, it was discovered that it was not only JBam- 
bridge, the then warden, who had been guilty of these 
practices, but his predecessor, Huggins, and perhaps many 


before, had almost equalled him in cruelty. The corrup- 
tion that had been carried on was unbounded. A smug- 
gler named Boyce was enabled to purchase such privi- 
leges, that Bambridge had several times broken down the 
prison wall to enable him to pass in and out. One 
prisoner was commissioned to purchase wines in France, 
whither he was permitted to go, with bills accepted by a 
tipstaff, who, at last refusing to accept more, the prisoner 
returned and divided his gains with his gaolers. At this 
prison, as well as at Newgate, the prisoners were allowed 
to stand at a wicket or grating in the wall which abutted 
upon the street, and collect alms from the passers-by, with 
the doleful cry of "Pray remember the poor debtors!" 
And even this poor-box was pillaged by the keepers of 
the prison ; and yet the perpetrators of these villanies were 
acquitted on a Crown prosecution, although, it is true, 
they were never reinstated in their posts. 

The state of things at Newgate was little better; the 
same features of cruelty and corruption pervaded that 
prison. The poorer class of debtors were indiscriminately 
placed amongst the worst of felons; debtors of better 
means were charged a heavy rent annually for separate 
apartments, and even premiums were demanded varying 
from twenty to five hundred pounds. Filth, lawlessness, 
and disorder reigned throughout the gaol; most of the 
cells were destitute of beds or any description of furniture; 
a sort of canteen for the sale of vile spirits in short mea- 
sures, and at exorbitant charges, was kept within the 
walls ; and, to add to the horrors of the place, in one part 
was a room known as " Jack Ketch's Kitchen," from its 
being the chamber in which that functionary boiled the 
quarters of persons executed for high treason, in oil, pitch, 
and tar, prior to their being publicly exposed. 


The abuses in the provincial gaols almost equalled those 
of the London prisons. The London Magazine of July, 
1741, lets us into a strange secret connected with the 
county gaol of Hertford. It appears that the gaoler, one 
Oxenton, kept " an inn opposite to the prison," and only 
occasionally went over with his men to see that his 
prisoners were safe. On the 21st of June, in the year 
above mentioned, he visited it at four o'clock in the 
morning, when he found four highwaymen, who were 
lying under sentence of death, had succeeded in breaking 
their chains, and speedily overpowered him and his men. 
He contrived, however, to escape, and sent for Robert 
Hadsley, Esquire, the high sheriff, who, on the convicts 
being secured, ordered one of them, Charles Cox, " to be 
hanged on the arch of the sign-iron belonging to the 
gaoler's house, and the others to be immediately executed, 
pursuant to their sentence, in the ordinary way." 

We can afford no further space to dwell upon the gross 
abuses of the prisons at this period, but those who are 
curious in these details we would refer to the opening 
chapters of Fielding's "Amelia," wherein the generous 
and not "trading" Westminster justice exposes the extor- 
tions to which the unfortunate prisoners were subjected; 
or to Miss Williams's pathetic story in Smollett's " Rode- 
rick Random," in which is revealed that scandalous prac- 
tice, the setting of unconvicted prisoners to hard labour, 
under the penalty of most degrading punishments. She 
was only arrested on suspicion of a felony, yet, before 
trial, she says, she was " often whipped into a swoon, and 
lashed out of it ; " and her attempt, goaded by torture and 
despair, to commit suicide, "was punished with thirty 
stripes, the pain of which bereft her of her senses." 

Other abominable abuses, connived at by the adminis- 


trators of the law, reigned without the prison walls, and 
whilst within the gaol the innocent were often punished 
with merciless rigour, beyond them the notoriously guilty, 
the outlawed debtor, the highwayman with a price upon 
his head, roamed at large and unmolested in the sanctuary 
of the Old Mint. The sanctuaries of the Savoy and 
Whitefriars were broken up, but as late as the middle of 
the reign of the first George the precincts of the Old Mint 
in Southwark were uninvaded by peace-officers, untrodden 
by the feet of bailiffs. With a few of its immunities still 
left to it (although deprived of its principal ones by a 
statute of William the Third), its lawless inhabitants 
contrived to preserve it sacred from the visits of the law. 
A regular organisation gave security to the proclaimed 
debtor, robber, and murderer; the arm of justice could 
not dared not reach him in the Old Mint. No bailiffs 
or peace-officers were allowed to enter within its precincts ; 
a " Master of the Mint," with his body-guard and officers, 
was appointed for the internal discipline and government 
of the sanctuary; and, to guard against invasion of its 
privileges from without even if such, in madness, should 
be attempted scouts and sentinels were posted at all 
the outlets; and thus crime held it against law and jus- 
tice, until the statute of George the First swept away its 
few remaining exemptions and protections, and left it, 
what it long after remained, simply " a bad neighbour- 

The system pursued at the roundhouses, watchhouses, 
compters, and cages, was equally atrocious to that of the 
superior gaols : even murder has been committed and 
hushed up within their walls: but whilst a system of 
wanton barbarity, which had grown up in an absence of 
proper regulations and control, prevailed in all places for 


the reception of prisoners, tried or untried, a false system 
of treatment, engendered by erroneous notions and igno- 
rance of the cause or cure of the worst malady that flesh 
is heir to, produced the same brutalising effects in our 
madhouses. All prospect of recovery was entirely extin- 
guished by the course of treatment pursued, and the tot- 
tering reason for ever driven in terror from its throne by 
the stern treatment with which it was assailed. Chains 
and whips, hard words and harder blows, were the portion 
of the unhappy lunatics, even in the public asylums: they 
were to be restrained by manacles and handcuffs, by 
scourgings and violence but not an effort was made to 
soothe, to comfort, to calm them. Some were half-starved, 
others left to filth and vermin; emaciated nakedness, 
matted filth, and murderous coercion, were to be met with 
in every cell of Old Bethlehem. Lunacy was dealt with 
as a crime, and its victims punished accordingly the 
raving madman confined with the harmless idiot; males 
and females in the same wards ; and the first beam of re- 
covery and ray of returning sanity shut out by the 
darkened atmosphere around, and startled back by the 
screams of agony, the groans of neglected suffering, and 
the clanking of chains and fetters. And in all their 
nakedness, and filth, and violence, the poor wretches were 
made into exhibitions to satisfy the rapacity of their 
keepers : 

"To gratify the curiosity of a country friend, I accom- 
panied him a few weeks ago to Bedlam. It was in the 
Easter week, when, to my great surprise, I found a hun- 
dred people at least, who, having paid their twopence 
apiece, were suffered, unattended, to run up and down 
the wards, making sport and diversion of the miserable 
inhabitants." The World, June 7, 1753. 


Why, it was a cheaper and more attractive sight for 
" the people" than the lions at Exeter 'Change ! 

So much for the cruelties of legal discipline to repress 
outrage and "protect the public;" and to show the 
extent to which it was thought necessary to enforce 
respect to the laws, we may mention that, in one year 
alone, 1732, during the mayoralty of Sir Francis Child, 
five hundred and two persons were indicted at the Old 
Bailey, in London only, of whom seventy received sen- 
tence of death, two hundred and eight were transported, 
eight fined, imprisoned, or pilloried, four burnt in the 
hand, and four whipped, the remainder being acquitted. 
And this in a population by nearly a century and a 
quarter's increase smaller than it is now ! 

From these dismal pictures we may turn to witness an 
amusing freak of the law, when it took cognizance of 
scolding women, and punished them with the cucking- 

" Scolding women," says Chamberlayne, " are to be 
set in a trebuchet, commonly called a cucking-stool, from 
the French ' coquinj and the German ' Stuhl, placed 
over some deep water, into which they are thrice let 
down, to cool their choler and heat." In 1705 one 
Mrs. Foxby was convicted of being a scold at the Maid- 
stone sessions; and as late as 1776, according to Mr. 
Weeld's letter in the Gentlemaris Magazine for 1803, 
the cucking-stool, or tumbril, as it was sometimes called, 
was the preliminary punishment of women committed to 
the Liverpool house of correction. Gay alludes to this 
punishment in his " Shepherd's Week :" 

I'll speed me to the pond, where the high stool, 
On the long plank, hangs o'er the muddy pool ; 
That stool the dread of every scolding quean. 


West's Poems, published in 1780, also give a descrip- 
tion of its application : 

Down in the deep the stool descends, 

But here at first we miss our ends ; 

She mounts again, and rages more 

Than ever vixen did before ; 

So, throwing water on the fire 

Will make it burn up but the higher. 

If so, my friends, pray let her take 

A second turn into the lake, 

And, rather than your patient lose, 

Thrice and again repeat the dose ; 

No brawling wives no furious wenches 

No fire so hot but water quenches. 

One of the most recent mentions of this punishment is 
made by Notes and Queries, as occurring in the muni- 
cipal accounts of Leicester (1768-9): 

" Paid Mr. Elliot for a cuck-stool, by order of 
Hall, 27." 

The most recent instance of its infliction is mentioned 
by Brand, as having taken place at Kingston-upon- 
Thames in 1745. 

As we have already had occasion to remark, other 
offences which now-a-days would scarcely be noticed, or 
only visited with a nominal fine, were severely resented 
by the ever jealous law. Thus, in 1796, one Kydd 
Wake, for hissing the king on the 29th of October, 
1795, and crying "No War!" &c., was sentenced to be 
imprisoned for five years, with hard labour, in Gloucester 
Penitentiary, to stand in the pillory once within the first 
three months, and to find sureties for his good behaviour 
for ten years; and in 1797, a clerk in the Post-office, 
named Wharton, was fined thirty pounds and imprisoned 
a week in the Compter for knocking at the door of 
one Sarah Slapp, between the hours of twelve and one in 


the morning of the 6th of January, and throwing stones 
at the windows. 

In 1780 a man was tried before Lord Mansfield, on an 
information charging him with celebrating mass according 
to the forms of the Roman Catholic Church, which, had 
he been a priest (as it was supposed he was), would have 
subjected him to perpetual imprisonment, but, the fact 
not being satisfactorily proved, the man was acquitted.* 

The old forms of punishment under the ecclesiastical 
law continued in use to a later date than those of the 
criminal laws, which were occasionally revised and altered 
to suit the progress and refining feelings of the times. In 
the eighteenth century, the sight was not unfrequent of 
some conscience-stricken sinner going through the fol- 
lowing punishment: "Public Penance. The delinquent 
is to stand in the church-porch upon some Sunday, bare 
head and bare foot, in a white sheet and a white rod in 
his hand, there bewailing himself, and begging every one 
that passes by to pray for him ; then to enter the church, 
falling down and kissing the ground ; then, in the middle 
of the church is he or she eminently placed, in the sight 
of all the people, and over against the minister, who de- 
clares the foulness of his crime odious to God and scan- 
dalous to the congregation," &c. 

Christian burial rites, also, were refused by the Church 
of England to " persons dying excommunicate, to such as 
are hanged for felony, or that wilfully kill themselves, and 
to apostates and heretics;" and, moreover, excommuni- 
cates were " disabled to be plaintiffs in a suit of law," &c. 
The severest punishment in the internal discipline of 
the Church, with which clergymen were visited, was 

* Campbell's Lives of the Chief Justices. 


" Deprivatio ab officio" " Depositio" or " Degradalio" 
by which he was entirely deprived of his orders, with the 
following ceremony : " The bishop, in a solemn manner, 
pulls off from the criminal his vestments and other ensigns 
of his order, and this in the presence of the civil magis- 
trate, to whom he is then delivered, to be punished as a 
layman for the like offence." 

The law was also very jealous of its dignity, and would 
not put up with being treated disrespectfully. " For 
striking in the King's Court, whereby blood is drawn, the 
punishment is that the criminal shall have his right hand 
stricken off in a sad and solemn manner;" but, "for 
striking in Westminster Hall, whilst the courts of justice 
are sitting, is imprisonment during life, and forfeiture of 
all one's estate." Rather a severe penalty for a hasty 
blow ! 

The House of Commons, too, was particularly fond of 
showing its respect for the constitutional liberty of the 
press, by pursuing with fire, if not with sword, any 
obnoxious publication. Thus John Wilkes's celebrated 
North Briton, No. 45, was burned by the common hang- 
man, as were also Wolston's Tracts, Doctor Sacheverel's 
Sermon (in front of the Royal Exchange), &c. ; and an 
entry in the Journals of the House, dated February the 
25th, 1702-3, states that folios 11, 18, and 26 of De Foe's 
" Shortest Way with the .Dissenters" having been read to 
the House, it " Resolved that the book, being full of 
false and scandalous reflections on this parliament, and 
tending to promote sedition, be burnt by the hands of the 
common hangman in New Palace-yard." But the pitiful 
vengeance of this enlightened parliament was not satiated 
by seeing De Foe's plans go off in smoke the writer was 
fined, pilloried, and imprisoned, and reckoned his pecu- 


niary loss from this persecution to have amounted to three 
thousand five hundred pounds sterling. 

As the imprisonment of the lord mayor and one of the 
aldermen by order of the House of Commons is so fa- 
miliar a matter of history, we need only remind our 
readers, in illustration of the extraordinary " measures of 
repression" taken in those days, that the lord mayor and 
Alderman Oliver were committed to the Tower on 
March the 27th, 1771, for liberating two printers arrested 
within the city by a messenger of the House of Commons 
and the deputy sergeant-at-arms, on a charge of printing 
the debates in parliament an extreme measure, taken in 
total disregard of the privileges of the city of London. 
The state prisoners (who received great ovations on their 
progress to and from the Tower, and who were visited 
during their confinement by many distinguished sympa- 
thisers) were liberated on the prorogation of the parlia- 
ment, on July the 23rd, in the same year. 




COFFEE and chocolate-houses were the favoured re- 
sorts of wits, politicians, gamblers, quidnuncs, and men 
about town in general ; not, perhaps, so much for the 
purpose of sipping coffee or chocolate as for a lounge, for 
reading the papers, hearing the news, talking politics, and 
playing at cards. The daily papers, it would seem, were 
to be perused for a fee of a penny, for the " Guardian" (No. 
160, September the 14th, 1713)* says of a testy old 
coffee-house politician, " He here lost his voice a second 
time in the extremity of his rage, and the whole company, 
who were all of them Tories, bursting out into a sudden 
laugh, he threw down his penny in great wrath, and retired 
with a most formidable frown." 

We have already alluded to a few of the leading coffee- 

s houses, and we may now glance at the characteristics of 

\/ their respective visitors. Thus, in 1724, " White's Cho- 

/ colate-house " was celebrated for its piquet and basset 

j clubs; "Littleman's Coffee-house" for its sharpers and high 

(daying at faro ; "Tom's" and "Will's" Coffee-houses 

* The Daily Courant, the first daily paper, appeared in 1702. 


were also frequented by gamesters ; the " Cocoa-Tree " 
and "Ozinda's" by Tory politicians; the "Saint James's" 
by Whigs ; the "British Coffee-house" by the Scotchmen 
in London ; " Youngman's " by officers ; " Oldman's " 
by stockjobbers of an inferior grade ; "Garra way's" by 
the better class of citizens and traders ; "Robin's" by 
foreign bankers and ambassadors ; " Jonathan's " by stock- 
jobbers; and "Button's," "Child's," and "John's" by 
authors. At a later period, the " Grecian " was the resort 
of politicians, and " Dolly's Chop-house " of wits. The 
" Chapter Coffee-house," in St. Paul's-churchyard, was 
frequented by authors and critics, who formed themselves 
into knots and coteries, each occupying a box, and criti- 
cising public men, manners, and works. In 1795, Alex- 
ander Stephens says, one box to which he belonged was 
occupied by Dr. Buchan, the author of the "Domestic 
Medicine," Sir Richard Phillips, founder of the Monthly 
Magazine, Alexander Chalmers, Doctor Busby, Macfar- 
lane, Doctor Fordyce, Gower, Berdmore, Towers, and 
other minor celebrities. 

" White's Chocolate-house," " Will's Coffee-house," the 
"Grecian," and the " Saint James's" have been immor- 
talised by the " Tatler." From the first were dated " All 
accounts of gallantry, pleasure, and entertainment;" from 
" Will's " issued the poetical department ; the " Grecian " 
furnished " the papers on learning ;" and the foreign and 
domestic news was gathered at the " Saint James's." The 
"parlour of the Grecian " is also alluded to by Addison 
as being at that time the forum of political discussionists ; 
and " Button's Coffee-house " is made immortal as the 
gathering-place of the Spectators' Club, and by the recol- 
lections of its lion's-mouth letter-box, always open for 
communications from correspondents. Here Addison, 



Steele, Pope, Tickell, Ambrose Philips, Carey, Daven- 
port, and Colonel Brett spent their leisure hours Button, 
the proprietor of the coffee-house, having been a servant 
to the Countess of Warwick, Addison's wife. Garraway's 
has been enshrined by Swift in the lines descriptive of 
the class of persons by whom it was frequented : 

Meantime secure on Garraway cliffs, 

A savage race by shipwrecks fed, 
Lie waiting for the foundered skiffs, 

And strip the bodies of the dead. 

These were the stockbrokers and jobbers of 'Change-alley, 
and full of them, no doubt, was Garra way's during the 
memorable South Sea speculation. 

The visitag_ to these coffee-houses at length began to 
form themselves into clubs literary, political^ convivial, 
or eccentric. Dean Swift, always up to his ears in poli- 
tical controversy, founded a club in 1712, called the " So- 
ciety of Brothers," consisting of the men of rank and 
talent among the Tories, meeting first at the Thatched 
House, which, on account of its high charges, was aban- 
doned for the Star and Garter, and finally settling at 
Ozinda's Coffee-house; but, on this club splitting on the 
rocks of party, he organised one of a more literary 
character, dubbed the " Scriblerus Club," of which Har- 
ley Earl of Oxford, St. John Viscount Bolingbroke,Ar- 
buthnot, Pope, Gay, and himself were members, one of 
the objects of which was to produce a satire upon the 
abuse of human learning ; but this club was destroyed by 
tl^e dissensions between Oxford and Bolingbroke. About 
the same period, or rather in 1710-11, there sprang up the 
" October Club," thus described by Swift : " A set of above 
a hundred Parliament men, who drink October beer at 


home, and meet every evening at a tavern" (the Bell, in 
King-street, Westminster) " near the Parliament, to con- 
sult affairs, and drive them on to extremes against the 
Whigs, to call the old ministry to account, and get off 
five or six heads." 

We are indebted to " A Humorous Account of all the 
Remarkable Clubs in London and Westminster " for the 
following list of Clubs in existence in 1 745 : " The Vir- \J 
tuoso's Club ; the Knights of the Golden Fleece ; the f 
Surly Club ; the Ugly Club ; the Split-farthing Club ; 
the Mock-heroes Club ; the Beaux Club ; the Quack 
Club ; the Weekly Dancing Club ; the Bird Fancier's 
Club ; the Chatterwit Club ; the Small Coal-man's 
Music Club." To these we may add the Kit Cat Club 
(on staunch Hanoverian principles, which met at the 
house of Kit Cat, a cook in Shire-lane) and the Beef-steak 
Club. The latter club was founded by Sheridan the 
elder, in 1753, and presided over by the celebrated and 
eccentric Peg Woffington, the actress, and frequented by 
members of Parliament and courtiers. 

There were also the Pandemonium Club, held in 
Clarges-street, May Fair ; the Blenheim Club, held at the 
Blenheim Tavern, Bond-street ; the Mitre Club, at the 
Mitre, in Essex-street, Strand. The Mitre Club was 
founded by Doctor Johnson, the landlord of the house at 
which it met having been servant to his friend Thrale. 
A club at the Saint James's, which was composed of Ed- 
mund Burke, Goldsmith, Garrick, Sir Joshua Reynolds, 
Cumberland the dramatist, the Dean of Derry, William 
and Richard Burke, and Doctor Douglas, afterwards v 
Bishop of Salisbury, is to be remembered as having pro- 
voked and produced Goldsmith's " Retaliation." The 


coterie, which amounted to little more than a periodical 
dinner-party, had, in Goldsmith's absence, written some 
facetious, good-natured epitaphs upon him, as " the late 
Doctor Goldsmith," which called forth the brilliant poem 
of the " Retaliation," which he read at the next meeting 
of the club. Goldsmith was also a member of the Lite- 
rary Society. This club was founded by Doctor John- 
son (a prolific clubbist, who defines the word club in his 
dictionary so partially), on the model of a similar one 
founded by him previously in Ivy-lane. The number of 
members was limited to nine : and the original members 
were Reynolds, Johnson, Burke, Doctor Nugent, Bennett, 
Langton, Topham Beauclerk, Chamier (secretary at the 
"War Office), Sir John Hawkins, and Goldsmith, who 
met and supped together every Monday night at the 
Turk's Head, in Gerrard-street, Soho; but the bounds of 
the club were extended some years later, and Garrick, Lord 
Charlemont, Sir William Jones the Orientalist, and Bos- 
well admitted. Goldsmith had, in 1760, been a member 
of the Robin Hood Club, a debating society which met 
near Temple Bar, and of which Burke was also a member. 
He likewise belonged to some clubs of a less intellectual 
character, as the Shilling Whist Club, at the Devil Ta- 
vern, near Temple Bar ; a Free-and-Easy Wednesday 
Club, at the Globe Tavern, in Fleet-street, of which 
Hugh Kelly the dramatist, Tom King the actor, and 
Glover, some time an actor, now a wag, were members, 
besides a huge bacchanalian named Gordon, and a wealthy 
pig-butcher; and during a summer's sojourn at Canon- 
bury Tower, to a club held at the Crown Tavern, in the 
Lower-road, Islington. His convivial tastes brought him 
sometimes into strange company from noblemen and men 


of genius down to pork-butchers and tavern-waiters, or, 
as they were then called, by the way, " drawers." 

The rage for clubs was so strong that men were not 
satisfied with belonging to one alone, but must be enrolled 
in several. Thus we find the same names repeated in the 
lists of members of the Pandemonium, Blenheim, Mitre, 
Kit Cat, and Beef-steak Clubs, and in the Literary So- 
ciety and the club held at the Grecian Coffee-house. The 
passion for clubs even spread to the northern metropolis, 
where the literary spirit was of a less constrained charac- 
ter than in London, and formed itself into social domestic 
groups. Yet Edinburgh had its celebrated Poker Club, 
comprising David Hume, Adam Ferguson, John Home, 
the author of " Douglas," Lord Elibank, and other emi- 
nent men, which took its name from its avowed purpose 
of stirring up the feelings of the nation against the exclu- 
sion of Scotland from the operation of the Militia Act, 
and at which lighter convivial amusements seem occasion- 
ally to have been indulged in. 

Mr. Daniel, in his " Merrie England in the Olden 
Time," has collected a further list of clubs existing in 
London in 1790. He enumerates the following: The 
Odd Fellows' Club; the Humbugs (held at the Blue 
Posts, in Covent Garden) ; the Samsonic Society ; the 
Society of Bucks; the Purl Drinkers; the Society of Pil- 
grims (held at the Woolpack, in the Kingsland-road) ; 
the Thespian Club; the Great Bottle Club; the Je ne 
sc^ai quoi Club (held at the Star and Garter, in Pall-mall, 
and of which the Prince of "Wales and the Dukes of York, 
Clarence, Orleans, Norfolk, Bedford, &c., were members); 
the Sons of the Thames Society ; the Blue-Stocking Club ; 
the No Pay No Liquor Club (held at the Queen and Ar- 


tichoke, in the Hampstead-road, and of which the cere- 
mony, on a new member's introduction, was, after his 
paying a fee on entrance of one shilling, that he should 
wear a hat throughout the first evening made in the 
shape of a quart pot, and drink to the health of his bro- 
ther members in a gilt goblet of ale); the Social Villagers 
(held at the Bedford Arms, in Camden-town), &c., &c. 

Most of these, it will be seen, were bacchanalian or 
eccentric clubs; the freaks and wild orgies of a semi- 
political society of this class are thus reported in the 
London Magazine of February, 1735: 

" On the 30th of last month, in the evening, a disorder 
of a particular nature happened in Suffolk-street. Several 
young gentlemen of distinction having met at a house 
there, called themselves the Calf's-head Club, and, about 
seven o'clock, a bonfire being lit up before the door, just 
when it was in its height they brought a calf's head to 
the window, dressed in a napkin cap, as some say, or, as 
others, showed a bloody napkin at the window, or one 
that, being stained with claret, appeared so, and, after 
some huzzas, threw it into the fire. The mob, having 
been entertained with strong beer for some time, huzza'd 
with them ; but, taking a disgust at some healths which 
were proposed, and bethinking themselves of the day, 
grew so outrageous that they broke all the windows, 
forced themselves into the house, and would probably 
have pulled it down, and destroyed the imprudent aggres- 
sors, had not the guard been sent for to prevent further 

In addition to these clubs, there were political debating 
societies at almost every tavern ; and the good-natured 
raillery aimed at the club system in the pages of the 


" Tatler," " Spectator," and " Guardian," show to what an 
extent it was carried in their day. 

They were social gatherings, too, these clubs harmless 
when political discussion and gambling were excluded, 
and useful and instructive where the conversation was of 
an intellectual character, as it must have been in those 
clubs where Addison, Steele, and Pope, or Johnson, Gold- 
smith, and Burke, were members. 




WE cannot do better, before closing our Museum of 
the Eighteenth Century, than show our visitors or 
readers two or three specimens of men of different 
grades, and each representing a separate sphere of society 
mummies embalmed in papyrus by those celebrated 
preservers of men and character, Addison, George Col- 
man, Bonnell Thornton, and Grose. 

The first we shall unrol was embalmed by Addison, 
and seems to have been an estimable though pleasantly 
eccentric gentleman, of the name of Roger de Coverley, 
knighted (most probably on account of his high respecta- 
bility of character) by But we have not a Baronetage 

at hand. No matter, we speak of the man, not the title, 
in the character of the COUNTRY GENTLEMAN OF THE 

The most eminent among the Club of Spectators was 
"a gentleman of Worcestershire, of ancient descent, a 
baronet, his name Sir Roger de Coverley. His great- 
grandfather was inventor of that famous country-dance, 
which is called after him. All that know that shire are 
very well acquainted with the parts and merits of Sir 
Roger. He is a gentleman that is very singular in his 


behaviour, but his singularities proceed from his good 
sense, and are contradictions to the manners of the world 
only as he thinks the world is in the wrong. However, 
this humour creates him no enemies, for he does nothing 
with sourness or obstinacy, and his being unconfined to 
modes and forms makes him but the readier and more 
capable to please and oblige all who know him. When 
he is in town, he lives in Soho-square. It is said he keeps 
himself a bachelor by reason he was crossed in love by a 
perverse beautiful widow in the next county to him. 
Before this disappointment, Sir Roger was what you call 
a fine gentleman had often supped with my Lord Ro- 
chester and' Sir George Etherege, fought a duel upon his 
first coming to town, and kicked bully Dawson in a public 
coffee-house for calling him a youngster. But, being ill- 
used by the above-mentioned widow, he was very serious 
for a year and a half, and though, his temper being natu- 
rally jovial, he at last got over it, he got careless of him- 
self, and never dressed afterwards. He continues to wear 
a coat and doublet of the same cut that were in fashion at 
the time of his repulse, which, in his merry humour, he 
tells us has been in and out twelve times since he first 
wore it. He is now in his fifty-sixth year, cheerful, gay, ~ 
and hearty ; keeps a good house both in town and country ; 
a great lover of mankind; but there is such a mirthful 
cast in his behaviour that he is rather beloved than es- 
teemed. His tenants grow rich, his servants look satisfied ; 
all the young women profess to love him, and the young 
men are glad of his company. When he comes into a 
house on a visit, he calls the servants by their names and u 
talks all the way up-stairs. I must not omit that Sir 
Roger is a justice of the quorum ; that he fills the chair 
at a quarter-session with great abilities, and three months 


ago gained universal applause by explaining a passage in 
the Game Act 

" As the knight is the best master in the world, he sel- 
dom changes his servants ; and, as he is beloved by all 
about him, his servants never care for leaving him ; by 
this means his domestics are all in years and grown old 
with their master. You would take his valet-de-chambre 
for his brother; his butler is grey-headed, his groom is one 
of the gravest men that I have ever seen, and his coach- 
man has the looks of a privy councillor. You see the 
goodness of the master even in the old house-dog, and in 
a grey pad that is kept in the stable with great care and 
tenderness out of regard for his past services,- though he 
has been useless for several years. 

" I could not but observe with a great deal of pleasure 
the joy that appeared in the countenances of these ancient 
domestics upon my friend's arrival at his country-seat; 
some of them could not refrain from tears at the sight of 
their old master ; every one of them pressed forward to 
do something for him, and seemed discouraged if they 
were not employed. At the same time, the good old 
knight, with a mixture of the father and the master of 
the family, tempered the inquiries after his own affairs 
with several questions relating to themselves. This hu- 
manity and good-nature engages everybody to him, so 
that, when he is pleasant upon any of them, all his family 
are in good humour, and none so much as the person he 
diverts himself with ; on the contrary, if he coughs or be- 
trays any infirmity of old age, it is easy for a stander-by 
to observe a secret concern in the looks of all his servants. 

"My chief companion, when Sir Roger is diverting 
himself in the woods or the fields, is a very venerable man, 
who is ever with Sir Roger, and has lived in his house in 


the nature of a chaplain above thirty years. This gen- 
tleman is a person of good sense and some learning, of a 
very regular life, and obliging conversation ; he heartily 
loves Sir Roger, and knows that he is very much in the 
old knight's esteem. So that he lives in the family 

rather as a relation than a dependent 

" As I was walking with him (Sir Roger) last night, 
he asked me how I liked the good man whom I have just 
now mentioned ; and, without staying for my answer, told 
me that he was afraid of being insulted with Latin and 
Greek at his own table, for which reason he desired a par- 
ticular friend of his at the university to find him out a 
clergyman rather of plain sense than much learning, of a 
good aspect, a clear voice, a sociable temper, and, if pos- 
sible, a man that understood something of backgammon. 
c My friend,' says Sir Roger, c found me out this gentle- 
man, who, besides the endowments required of him, is, 
they tell me, a good scholar, though he does not show it; 
I have given him the parsonage of the parish, and, because 
I know his value, have settled upon him a good annuity 
for life. If he outlives me he shall find that he was 
higher in my esteem than perhaps he thinks he is. He 
has now been with me thirty years, and, although he does 
not know I have taken notice of it, has never in all that 
time asked anything of me for himself, though he is every 
day soliciting me for something in behalf of one or other 
of my tenants, his parishioners. There has not been a 
lawsuit in the parish since he has been among them ; if 
any dispute arises they apply themselves to him for the de- 
cision; if they do not acquiesce in his judgments, which I 
think never happened but once or. twice at most, they 
appeal to me. At his first settling with me I made him a 
present of all the good sermons which have been printed 


in English, and only begged of him that every Sunday 
he would pronounce one of them in the pulpit. Accord- 
ingly, he has digested them into such a series that they 
follow one another naturally, and make a continued 
system of practical divinity.' " 

But the character of this real " good old English gen- 
tleman, all of the olden time," cannot be properly dis- 
played without following tlje description through a length 
of detail too great for our space ; nor would it, perhaps, 
be fair to do so; for, although we must be wiser and 
better men for conversing with the dear amiable old 
baronet (for is it not a living and speaking picture ?), we 
must not presume that all the baronets in the reign of 
Queen Anne were like him. It is the type of a species, 
though, we are afraid, not of the genus. 

We might exhibit another portrait of a good, honest, 
" blustering country gentleman, full of oaths, fox-hunting, 
good wine, and gout an early riser and late roysterer, as 
portrayed by Fielding, but it is too diffuse, and the 
several characteristics not so easily collected, so we must 
pass on to a more compact portrait that of the SMALL 
which we take from Grose's " Olio" (1792): 

" Another character, now worn out and gone, was the 
country squire ; I mean the little independent gentleman 
of three hundred pounds per annum, who commonly 
appeared in a plain drab or plush coat, large silver but- 
tons, a jockey cap, and rarely without boots. His travels 
never exceeded the distance of the county town, and that 
only at assize or session time, or to attend an election. 
Once a week he commonly dined at the next market-town 
with the attorneys and justices. This man went to church 
regularly, read the weekly journal, settled the parochial 


disputes between the parish officers at the vestry, and 
afterwards adjourned to the neighbouring alehouse, where 
he usually got drunk for the good of his country. He 
never played at cards but at Christmas, when a family 
pack was produced from the mantelpiece. He was com- 
monly followed by a couple of greyhounds and a pointer, 
and announced his arrival at a neighbour's house by 
smacking his whip or giving the view-halloo. His drink 
was generally ale, except on Christmas, the Fifth of No- 
vember, or some other gala days, when he would make 
a bowl of strong brandy-punch, garnished with a toast 
and nutmeg. A journey to London was, by one of these 
men, reckoned as great an undertaking as is at present a 
voyage to the East Indies, and undertaken with scarce 
less precaution and preparation. 

" The mansion of one of these squires was of plaster, 
striped with timber, not unaptly called callimaneo work, 
or of red brick, large casemated bow-windows, a porch 
with seats in it, and over it a study, the eaves of the house 
well inhabited by swallows, and the court set round with 
hollyhocks. Near the gate,, a horseblock for the conve- 
niency of mounting. 

" The hall was furnished with flitches of bacon, and 
the mantelpieces with guns and fishing-rods of different 
dimensions, accompanied by the broadsword, partisan, 
and dagger born by his ancestors in the civil wars. The 
vacant spaces were occupied by stag-horns. Against the 
wall was posted King Charles's Golden Rules ; Vincent 
Wing's Almanack, and a Portrait of the Duke of Marl- 
borough; in his window lay Baker's Chronicle, Fox's 
Book of Martyrs, Glanvil on Apparitions, Quincey's 
Dispensatory, the Complete Justice, and a Book of 



" In the corner, by the fireside, stood a large wooden 
two-armed chair, with a cushion ; and within the chim- 
ney-corner were a couple of seats. Here, at Christinas, 
he entertained his tenants, assembled round a glowing 
fire, made of the roots of trees and other great logs, and 
told and heard the traditionary tales of the village. In 
the mean time, the jorum of ale was in continual circula- 

"The best parlour, which was never opened but on 

particular occasions, was furnished with Turk-worked 

chairs, and hung round with portraits of his ancestors; 

the men in the character of shepherds, with their crooks, 

dressed in full suits, and huge, full-bottomed perukes; 

, others in complete armour, or buff coats, playing on the 

bass viol or lute. The females likewise, as shepherdesses, 

with the lamb and crook, all habited in high heads and 

/ flowing robes." 

There is such a "warmth of colouring" about this 
picture, something so genuine old English in its features, 
that we are compelled to feel, with the writer, something- 
like regret at missing this figure from our present rustic 
scenes. What has become of the small squire? 

" Alas ! these men and these houses are no more ; the 
luxury of the times has obliged them to quit the country 
and become the humble dependents on great men, to 
solicit a place or commission to live in London, to rack 
their tenants and draw their rents before due. The 
venerable mansion, in the mean time, is suffered to tumble 
down, or is partly upheld as a farm-house, till, after a few 
years, the estate is conveyed to the steward of a neigh- 
bouring lord, or else to some nabob, contractor, or limb 
of the law." 

True too true ! ' May we not carry " refinement" too 


far, if such men may not live within its sunshine ? Let us 
pause, and think of the picture of the old squire in the 
chimney-corner, smoking his pipe and drinking his ale 
with his tenants at merry Christmas-time. Well, we 
suppose everything is for the best ! 

The next in our little gallery is the portrait of the 
SECOND, painted in " The Connoisseur " of George Col- 
man and Bonnell Thornton (1754) : 

"In those dusty retreats where the want of London 
smoke is supplied by the smoke of Virginia tobacco, our 
chief citizens are accustomed to pass the end and the be- 
ginning of every week. Their boxes (as they are 
modestly called) are generally in a row, to resemble as 
much as possible the streets in London. Those edifices 
which stand single and at a distance from the road have 
always a summer-house at the end of a small garden, 
which, being erected upon a wall adjoining to the high- 
way, commands a view of every carriage, and gives the 
owner an opportunity of displaying his best wig to every 
one that passes by. A little artificial fountain, spouting 
water sometimes to the amazing height of four feet, and 
in which frogs supply the want of fishes, is one of the 
most exquisite ornaments in these gardens. There are, 
besides (if the spot of ground allows sufficient space for 
them), very curious statues of Harlequin, Scaramouch, 
Pierrot, and Columbine, which serve to remind their 
wives and daughters of what they have seen at the play- 

" I went last Sunday, in compliance with a most press- 
ing invitation from a friend, to spend the whole day with 
him at one of these little seats, which he had fitted up for 



his retirement once a week from business. It is pleasantly 
situated about three miles from London, on the side of a 
public road, from which it is separated by a dry ditch, over 
which is a little bridge, consisting of two narrow planks, 
leading to the house. The hedge on the other side of the 
road cuts off all prospect whatsoever, except from the 
garrets, from whence, indeed, you have a beautiful vista 
of two men hanging in chains on Kennington-common, 
with a distant view of St. Paul's cupola, enveloped in a 
cloud of smoke. I set out on my visit betimes in the 
morning, accompanied by my friend's book-keeper, who 
was my guide, and carried over with him the London 
Evening Post, his mistress's hoop, and a dozen of pipes, 
which they were afraid to trust in the chair. When I 
came to the end of my walk, I found my friend sitting at 
the door in a black velvet cap, smoking his morning pipe. 
He welcomed me into the country ; and, after having 
made me observe the turnpike on my left, and the ' Gol- 
den Wheatsheaf ' on my right, he conducted me into his 
house, where I was received by his lady, who made a 
thousand apologies for being catched in such a disha- 

" The hall (for so I was taught to call it) had its white 
wall almost hid by a curious collection of prints and paint- 
ings. On one side was a large map of London, a plan 
and elevation of the Mansion House, with several lesser 
views of the public buildings and halls ; on the other was 
the Death of the Stag, by the happy pencil of Mr. Henry 
Overton, finely coloured ; close by the parlour-door there 
hung a pair of stag's horns, over which there laid across 
a red roccelo, and an amber-headed cane. When I had 
declared all this to be mighty pretty, I was shown into 


the parlour, and was presently asked who that was over 
the chimney-piece. I pronounced it to be a very striking 
likeness of my friend, who was drawn bolt upright, in a 
full-bottomed periwig, a laced cravat, with the fringed 
ends appearing through a button-hole, a black livery- 
gown, a snuff-coloured velvet coat with gold buttons, a 
red velvet waistcoat trimmed with gold, one hand stuck 
in the bosom of his shirt, and the other holding out a 
letter, with the superscription, 'To Mr. , Common- 
councilman of Farringdon Ward Without.' My eyes 
were then directed to another figure in a scarlet gown, 
who, I was informed, was my friend's wife's great-great- 
uncle, and had been sheriff and knighted in the reign of 
King James the First. Madam herself fills up a panel on 
the opposite side, in the habit of a shepherdess, smelling 
to a nosegay, and stroking a ram with gilt horns. 

" I was then invited by my friend to see what he was 
pleased to call his garden, which was nothing more than 
a yard about thirty feet in length, and contained about a 
dozen little pots, ranged on each side, with lilies and cox- 
combs, supported by some old laths painted green, with 
bowls of tobacco-pipes on their tops. At the end of this 
garden he made me take notice of a little square building, 
surrounded with filleroy, which he told me an alder- 
man of great taste had turned into a temple, by erecting 
some battlements and spires of painted wood on the front 
of it. 

" After dinner, when my friend had finished his pipe, 
he proposed taking a walk, that we might enjoy a little 
of the country ; so I was obliged to trudge along the foot- 
path by the road-side, while my friend went puffing and 
blowing, with his hat in his hand and his wig half off his 


head. At last I told him it was time for me to return 
home, when he insisted on going with me as far as the 
half-way house, to drink a decanter of stingo before we 
parted. We here fell into company with a brother livery- 
man of the same ward, and I left them both together in a 
high dispute about Canning,* but not before my friend 
had made me promise to repeat my visit to his country- 
house the next Sunday." 

It is curious to observe how fully the writer's appre- 
hensions lest the citizens' passion for country-houses on a 
larger scale should extend have been realised in the pre- 
sent age. But this is none of our business ; pass we to a 
miniature -from Grose's " Olio :" 

" When I was a young man," he writes, in 1792, " there 
existed in the families of most unmarried men or widowers 
of the rank of gentlemen, residents in the country, a 
certain antiquated female, either maiden or widow, com- 
monly an aunt or cousin. Her dress I have now before 
me; it consisted of a stiff-starched cap and hood, a little 
hoop, a rich silk damask gown with large flowers. She 
leant on an ivory-headed crutch-cane, and was followed 
by a fat phthisicky dog of the pug kind, who commonly 
reposed on a cushion, and enjoyed the privilege of snarling 
at the servants, occasionally biting their heels with im- 

" By the side of this good old lady jingled a bunch of 
keys, securing in different closets and corner-cupboards 
all sorts of cordial waters, cherry and raspberry brandy, 
washes for the complexion, Daffy's elixir, a rich seed-cake, 
a number of pots of ciurrant jelly and raspberry jam, with 

* Elizabeth Canning a noted impostor of the time. 


a range of gallipots and phials, containing salves, elec- 
tuaries, juleps, and purges, for the use of the poor neigh- 
bours. The daily business of this good lady was to scold 
the maids, collect eggs, feed the turkeys, and assist at all 
lyings-in that happened within the parish. Alas ! this 
being is no more seen, and the race is, like that of her 
pug dog and the black rat, totally extinct." 




No one who has read the romances of the last century 
can have failed to notice the affectation and quaintness of 
style occasionally observable in the language of their cha- 
racters. In illustration of this quaintness of language, we 
have throughout given our extracts in the precise form in 
which we found them, saving a few crudities which would 
scarcely have been tolerable. It is also worthy of admira- 
tion that, while our grandsires were peculiarly economical 
of their space in omitting some of the letters in their 
printed orthography, as in the words " cou'd," " wou'd," 
"wish'd," "kill'd," or as "'tis," "th' end," &c., they 
lavished more letters upon other words than we now con- 
sider necessary, as in " politicks," " citty," " honour," and 
other words. The olden forms of preterite tense were 
also adhered to in some instances, as " mought have " for 
might have, "fit," for fought, "has swore," &c.; but the 
most singular infatuation was their persisting in transpos- 
ing the letters of the word gaol, by spelling it " goal," 
which was no typographical error, as might at first seem 
probable, but the regular practice, and apparently the ac- 
cepted manner of printing the word. 


An affectation frequently observable in the sermons of 
the period was the substitution of a mute h for the aspi- 
rate, as " an house/' " an high wall," " an horrid charge," 
&c. For terrace, we also find " terras ;" " risque " for risk, 
and other primitive forms of orthography were still in 

Of abbreviations, Swift protests against several being in- 
troduced into polite conversation, and instances some used 
in his time, among which are " mob," for mobile, " pozz " 
for positive, "hypps" for hypochondriacs, "bam" for bam- 
boozle, and " rep " for reputation. From the last came 
the oath or asseveration " Ton rep," and the term "Demi- 
reps," applied to ladies of doubtful reputation. 

In matters of computation (which they would have 
printed, with the same inveterate love of superfluous 
letters, "accompts," for accounts), they were as extrava- 
gant of their figures, adopting what at first sight would 
look like a decimal arrangement. Thus, a clerk writing 
4s. Od. would have expressed it thus, " 04s. OOd." 

To descend to details, which may appear trivial and 
unimportant, but are yet curious, we may just glance at 
the form of their type, so stiff and formal, and, in the de- 
partment of the numerals, not very convenient or sightly, 
inasmuch as several of the figures were allowed to range 
higher or lower than the others, as " 1793" for 1793, 
" 1705" for 1705, &c. The & retained certainly a more 
intelligible character, as it was written and printed " &?," 
in which may be distinctly traced the " et " of which it is 
composed, although partaking more of the Greek than 
Roman form. 

In familiar conversation, we may see, by the romances 
of Richardson, Fielding, Smollett, &c., that a favourite 


sarcastic exclamation of the time was " Marry come up ! " 
But the other popular and vulgar expressions would not 
bear transcribing neither are they worthy of preserva- 

If we are to judge of the manners of the age by the 
productions of its most esteemed writers, the regard paid 
to delicacy was not of a very exaggerated character. The 
novelists, satirists, poets, playwrights, and artists of the 
period were tolerated in assuming the greatest licence of 
language, breadth of humour, and latitude of expression, 
that were not always scrupulously refined : coarseness, 
vulgarity, and even ribaldry and obscenity abound in 
most of the works of Swift, Sterne, Fielding, and Smol- 
lett. Pope's writings are not free from them in fact, 
scarcely a writer of the century exhibited much delicacy 
in this respect, while many of the scenes of Hogarth have 
their humour heightened at the expense of decency. Sir 
Walter Scott has said, " We should do great injustice to 
the present day by comparing our manners with those of 
the reign of George I. The writings even of the most 
esteemed poets of that period contain passages which, in 
modern times, would be accounted to deserve the pillory. 
Nor was the tone of conversation more pure than that of 
composition : for the taint of Charles the Second's reign 
continued to infect society until the present reign, when, 
if not more moral, we have at least become more decent than 
our fathers." It is also worthy of remark, as illustrating 
the variations produced by time in national tastes, preju- 
dices, and characteristics, that, while in the present day 
the French romances are considered immoral, according 
to our stricter notions of propriety, so different was the 
case a hundred years ago, that Desfontaines, the translator 


of "Gulliver's Travels" into French, felt it necessary to 
apologise very seriously for the coarseness of the work, 
and to soften, and sometimes entirely omit many of the 
obj ectionable passages . 

Of other " miscellaneous " curiosities of manners and 
customs, here is one of a royal practice now in abeyance : 

" Her majesty, in consequence of being pregnant, has 
releas'd an hundred and ten parents of children who were 
confin'd for de"bt in different prisons, not having discharg'd 
the demands of the different nurses, all of whom her ma- 
jesty has satisfied." Old British Spy, June 13, 1778. 

A hundred and ten parents imprisoned for not paying 
their nurses! At all events, this is no humorous state- 
ment, for we are forced to ask what became of the 
hundred and ten innocents thus ushered into the world 
from bankrupt parents ? A hundred and ten children 
whose parents could not pay for their birth, much less for 
their future maintenance, and least of all, we fear, for 
their education ! A hundred and ten candidates for the 
workhouse and the gaol ! Neither must we enshrine this 
act of charity on the part of her majesty as a " curiosity " 
the manner in which the money was given alone was 
remarkable : the spirit, thank Heaven ! is common on our 

In the next extract we have a glimpse of another regal 
practice : 

" Hampton Court, August 1st, 1737. Yesterday, 31st 
July, being Sunday, their majesties, the Prince and 
Princess of Wales, and Princesses Amelia and Caroline 
went to Chapel at Hampton Court, and heard a sermon 
preached by the Rev. Dr. Blower. Their majesties and 
the rest of the royal family dined afterwards in public, as 



usual, before a great number of spectators." London 
Gazette, No. 7623, Tuesday, August 2, 1737. 

The legislature appears to have interfered occasionally 
with the rules of dress and fashion. "Revolutionary" 
costume was suppressed after the rebellion of the Young 
Pretender: " June the 17 th, 1747. The royal consent 
was this day given to a bill for restraining the use of the 
Highland dress." "Patriotic" costume was enjoined in 
the next year, when " any party selling or wearing French 
cambric, or lawn of French manufacture, in any part of 
Great Britain, from and after June the 24th (1748), will 
be subject to a penalty of five pounds ; except the person 
so wearing shall truly disclose the party of whom he pur- 
chased such cambric or lawn, when the wearer will be 
relieved of the penalty, and the seller alone pay it." 

-Mr. Dickens, in his "Nicholas Nickleby," first drew 
public attention to the enormities practised in the " York- , 
shire schools," but, at the period of which he speaks, the 
terms for " a liberal education," board and clothing, were 
twenty guineas per annum. What must have been the 
horrors, the miseries and privations, the neglect and 
cruelties suffered in these academies in 1779, when we 
find advertisements in the public prints announcing "a 
Classical and Commercial Education, comprising a course 
of Latin, Greek, Mensuration, Algebra, Dealing, &c., &c., 
with board and clothing, at Twelve Guineas per annum !" 
This interpretation of the term " liberal education" may, 
in some measure, account for the illiterate language which 
Smollett puts into the mouths of his physicians, lawyers, 
admirals, colonels, and apothecaries. 

To be sure, the cost of living was tolerably cheap about 
this time, and twelve guineas went a good deal further 


than twelve guineas would .now. George Colman the 
younger relates that, on his tour with his father to the 
North of England in 1775, the hotel charges for dinner, 
consisting of " no scanty meal, but plenty of everything, 
fish, flesh, and fowl, and excellent of their kind," were 
consolidated under the head of " EATING, one shilling." 
Tea would have been a dearer meal even then, but what 
a luxury it must have been forty years earlier, when, 
according to the price-current of Reatfs Weekly Journal, 
or British Gazetteer, of Saturday, April 27th, 1734, the 
prices of that article were : " Green Tea, 9s. to 12s. 
per lb.; Congou, 10s. to 12s.; Pekoe, 14s. to 16s.; Im- 
perial, 9s. to 12s.; Hyson, 20s. to 25s. !" 

"We have already said our Cabinet contains but speci- 
mens our task has been but to arrange them. We are 
no moralists ; we have hazarded no conjectures, and shall 
advance no opinions of our own. We have been but 
diligent pickers-up of curiosities on the by-ways of his- 
tory, and have only written a catalogue of them, not a 
treatise. Without, therefore, inquiring into the probable 
cause or explaining the effects of the phenomenon, we 
cannot but call attention to another remarkable feature of 
the Eighteenth Century that it produced more hereditary 
talent than any preceding it, displayed in literature, in 
the senate, and on the stage, by the Gibbers, the Colmans, 
the Sheridans, the Walpoles, the Pitts, the Foxes, and 
the Kembles. 

The stirring political events of the Eighteenth Century 
have been registered in history ; its worthies have been 
recorded in biography ; its great works are preserved in 


our libraries, our galleries, and our streets; its fame lives 
in our memories, and its disasters are best forgotten. It 
has been our task to collect the scattered details of its 
domestic manners and customs, which may serve to illus- 
trate the other portions of its history. That we may have 
occasionally opened new ground, and dug up curiosities 
that had not been seen since they were first buried in the 
dust of time, we sincerely hope that they are worth pre- 
serving we devoutly believe :. to describe and arrange 
them carefully we have endeavoured, as far as the incon- 
gruous and varied nature of the materials would admit. 

As illustrative of the Manners and Customs of the 
Eighteenth Century, if it aspire to no consideration from 
the historian, our collection may be useful to the novelist, 
the artist, or the actor : it has, at least, one recommenda- 
tion it is genuine. We have given our authorities for 
every anecdote ; we have stated distinctly where we found 
every specimen ; and, where we have been tempted to be 
trespassers and purloined a piece or two of gold from the pre- 
vious " diggings " of Mr. Knight or Mr. Daniel, we have 
referred to the place from whence they took it, and con- 
vinced ourselves that they were not mistaken. 

After all, we have only picked up the curiosities that lay 
upon the surface we have not dug deeply into the heavy 
soil of history. The events of the century are only alluded 
to when they tended to illustrate its manners or tastes, and 
then they have been but lightly touched upon it was its 
every-day domestic life we wished to convey an idea of. 
The materials of which our museum is composed may be 
sneered at they are but newspaper paragraphs, after all. 
But the very news departments of the public journals and 
magazines are never useless in elucidating history ; if the 


details and circumstances narrated are but of local, per- 
sonal, or temporary interest, their nature, or the manner 
in which they are told, throw a light upon an age that is 
gradually fading in the distance. 

The man who thinks the only information to be derived 
from our old magazines is to be found in their essays and 
treatises, will find less than we, who have searched their 
news departments, their poetical pages, and their fashion- 
able scandal: there is not more material to be found in 
many books than in their dedications. The very portion 
which might be passed over as unworthy of perusal the 
paragraphs of domestic news, the birthday and new-year 
odes, the prologues and epilogues of plays, the advertise- 
ments, the lists, even, of marriages and deaths, the descrip- 
tion of the latest fashion, the dedications of books, the 
small talk and scandal, are the very portions in which to 
look for the characteristic curiosities of the time. As his- 
torical records they are not, perhaps, so useful or so 
authentic as in their character of mirrors of manners, 
customs, tastes, and public feeling. Yet history is made 
up of other materials besides state documents and re- 
cords ; it would not be so complete as we find it but 
for the additional lights thrown upon it by coins and 
medals, and fragments of antiquity, that were not made for 
handing it down to us. 

That the information thus derived is valuable we do not 
pretend ; all that we contend for is that it is curious nay, 
perhaps more it may be useful in reconciling and realis- 
ing recorded history. It may enable us to see the great 
events of the time in the light which shone upon them 
to clothe its characters in the dress they wore to con- 
sider its measures with a tinge of the feelings in the midst 



of which they originated ; and, in reading of the events 
of the Eighteenth Century, we may be better able to sever 
ourselves from the nineteenth to step back into the days 
of our grandfathers, and be at home in their society. 

To this purpose are our curiosities dedicated the 
gleanings of the fields which abler hands have reaped. 






Andrews, Alexander 

The eighteenth century